Belgium 2015 euthanasia report: Deaths continue to rise

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The 2015 Belgian euthanasia data indicates that the number of euthanasia deaths continue to increase. According to the Belgian media, in 2015, there were 2021 reported deaths by euthanasia, up from 1924 reported euthanasia deaths in 2014.

But Wim Distelmans, the chairman of the euthanasia commission reminded the media that they cannot say for certain the actual number of euthanasia deaths. Distelmans stated:

"Remember, there could be some euthanasia cases carried out but which are not declared so we cannot say for certain what the number is,"

Distelmans remarks are confirmed by research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on March 19 2015 concerning the euthanasia practice in Belgium which indicated that: 

  • 4.6% of all deaths in 2013 in the Flanders region were euthanasia. 
  • .05% of all deaths in 2013 in the Flanders region were assisted suicide.
  • 1.7% of all deaths in 2013 in the Flanders region were hastened without explicit request.

First: The data uncovered significant under-reporting of euthanasia in the Flanders region of Belgium. The official 2013 euthanasia data found that 2.4% of the deaths in the Flanders region were euthanasia, while the study examining all deaths found that 4.6% of the deaths in the Flanders region were euthanasia. Therefore nearly half of the euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were not reported.

In January 2014, Dr Marc Cosyns, was quoted by De Standard news saying that he never reports his euthanasia deaths, even though it is a requirement of the Belgian euthanasia law.

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