Euthanasia Deaths Increase Again in Belgium


The official report on euthanasia deaths in Belgium in 2018, released on February 28, indicates that there were 2,357 reported assisted deaths, up from 2,309 the previous year. The report suggests that the number of deaths are stable. But the number of deaths in 2010 was 954, so there has been a 247 per cent increase in just 8 years.


The slowed growth in euthanasia deaths is likely based on the courts agreeing to examine some of the most controversial cases. For instance, the European Court of Human Rights agreed in January to hear the case of a depressed Belgian woman who died by euthanasia, and last November three Belgian doctors were charged in relation to a euthanasia death for psychiatric reasons.


Since 2010, Belgium has extended the law and expanded the reasons that it approves euthanasia by re-interpreting the law.


In 2018 there were 57 deaths (2.4 per cent) for mental or behavioural conditions, 83 (3.5 per cent) for psychiatric reasons alone and 1 per cent of the reported deaths were incompetent people who had made a previous request. No children were reported to have died by euthanasia in 2018.


But the true number of assisted deaths in Belgium may be much higher than the official figures suggest. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicinein 2015 found that in 2013 1.7 per cent of all deaths were hastened without explicit request, representing more than 1000 deaths. This suggests that almost half of the euthanasia deaths in 2013 were not reported to the commission.

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. March 3. Belgian Department of Public Health. February 28.

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