Several countries and some North American states have recently legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide, including Canada and the State of California in the US.
In 2017, more than 13,000 patients died worldwide by assisted suicide in countries in which these practices are legal.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide have been legalized in the Netherlands and Belgium since 2002, assisted suicide in Switzerland since 1918 and in the state of Oregon in the US since 1997. Read our report Medical, legal, social and bioethical assessment of euthanasia.
Data on these practices corresponding to the years 2007 to 2017 has now been presented by The Lancet (see HERE ), showing that deaths by euthanasia and assisted suicide continue to rise substantially in Belgium and the Netherlands, with assisted suicide accounting for 3.5% of assisted deaths in the Netherlands in 2016. However, in the state of Oregon, the number of deaths by assisted suicide has practically stabilized, with 3.9 per 1000 deaths in Oregon, compared to 43.9 per 1000 in Holland.
As we know, the fundamental difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia is that in the former, it is the patient him or herself to ingests the lethal drugs given to them, while in euthanasia, they are administered by the healthcare-giver.
The rise in assisted suicide in Switzerland seems to be — among other reasons — because virtually any type of patient may obtain permission, even if they are not terminally ill, while in Oregon, only patients with a life expectancy less than 6 months may do so. It should be noted though that, in Oregon, 36% of patients who request assisted suicide did not carry it out and died of their illness.
As mentioned, Canada legalized euthanasia in 2016 and California legalized assisted suicide in 2017. At present, euthanasia accounts for 1% of all deaths in Canada, while assisted suicide accounts for 0.14% of deaths in California (see HERE full text).