By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The Exit suicide clinic in Switzerland reported that there were 583 assisted suicide deaths in 2014, a 27% increase from the 459 deaths in 2013.
Exit claimed that the spike in numbers was due to a greater media interest in euthanasia, an ageing population and a rise in cases of dementia.
Last May, Exit extended assisted suicide to elderly healthy people who are living with physical or psychological pain. This decision would have led to an increase in deaths.
In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85 year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.
In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria in southern Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland after receiving a wrong diagnosis.
A 2014 Swiss study found that people who died at Swiss suicide clinics had no underlying illness in 16% of the cases.
It appears that euthanasia and assisted suicide are becoming normalized in countries where it is legal. Recent statistics indicate that euthanasia increased by 27% in 2013 in Belgium and 15% in 2013 in the Netherlands, while assisted suicide increased by 44% in 2014 in Oregon and 43% in 2013 in Washington State.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide appear to be socially contagious.