Euthanasia rate soars in the Netherlands

Euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands rose by 10 per cent last year, an influential medical committee has reported.

There were 6,091 euthanasia deaths in 2016, compared to 5,516 the previous year, according to the Regional Review Committee.

According to Dutch media reports, the practice now accounts for four per cent of all deaths in the country.


The committee found that 87 per cent of euthanasia deaths involved people with cancer, serious heart or lung problems or diseases of the nervous system, 60 cases involved people with severe psychiatric problems and 32 involved people with dementia.

They also found that the rules for euthanasia were not followed correctly in ten cases, usually because a second doctor was not consulted.

Earlier this year, a Dutch doctor escaped punishment after euthanising a dementia sufferer against her will.

The woman said she did not want to die several times in the days before she was given a lethal injection. The authorities admitted that the doctor had ‘crossed the line’ by giving her the drug and should not have persisted after she showed resistance, but still cleared the doctor who acted ‘in good faith’.

UK vote

Assisted suicide remains illegal in the UK.

Under the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a person who intentionally encourages or assists the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, commits an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

A Bill to legalise assisted suicide was soundly defeated in the House of Commons in 2015 by 330 votes to 118.