THE HAGUE: The Netherlands’ only euthanasia clinic said on Friday there had been a 22 per cent jump in people wanting to end their lives last year compared with 2018.
The Euthanasia Expertise Centre based in The Hague, which helps doctors to carry out assisted death, said the 3,122 requests it received last year was “far more than expected.”
The Netherlands is one of a handful of countries where euthanasia is legal and by law all Dutch people older than 12 are entitled to ask for it – but they first have to meet strict criteria.
“Every working day there are 13 people who come to us and say: ‘I cannot go on any longer’. There is a great need,” said clinic manager Steven Pleiter.
He said the number of requests remained stable in 2017 and 2018, but then accelerated last year, without suggesting a reason for the increase.
Pleiter said some 900 requests to the clinic were carried out last year.
But he said the jump in euthanasia demands rang alarm bells as the clinic was battling to deal with the increase.
“We have openings on all fronts, for doctors, psychiatrists and nurses,” Pleiter said.
Just over 6,000 assisted deaths were carried out across the Netherlands in 2018, according to official figures, with the Euthanasia Expertise Centre assisting in 727 in those.
The Netherlands was the first country to legalise euthanasia in 2002. It can only be carried out under strict conditions set down in Dutch law.
Children up to 16 need the permission of their parents and guardians, while parents must be involved in the process for children aged 16 and 17. From 18, any Dutch citizen may ask for assisted death.
In all cases, the patient must have “unbearable and endless suffering” and must have requested to die “earnestly and with full conviction.”
A Dutch court last year acquitted a doctor who euthanised a woman with severe dementia in a landmark case. - AFP