Netherlands Euthanizes Record Number of People in 2020, Many With Dementia, Mental Illness

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More people in the Netherlands were legally euthanized in 2020 than ever before, media reports from the country revealed.

According to Dutch News, nearly 7,000 people elected to commit medically-assisted suicide, hundreds of which suffered from mental illness or disability.

The data was compiled by Regional Euthanasia Review Committees, which analyze each euthanasia death, confirm that the strict rules for euthanasia are met, and create an annual report of the tragic practice. The committees reported that 6,938 people were euthanized in 2020, representing a 9% increase over 2019.

Dutch News notes that “as in previous years, dementia was a factor in 2% of the deaths, and psychiatric disorders represented just over 1%. The vast majority of people had terminal cancer, and just two people had advanced dementia.”

Shockingly, RTE chairman Jeroen Recourt said he believes that the data is perfectly normal does not indicate a problematic rise. “The figures are part of a larger development,” Recourt told Trouw, a Dutch news outlet. “More and more generations see euthanasia as a solution to unbearable suffering. But the idea that euthanasia is an option in case of hopeless suffering, gives a lot of peace.”

Recourt also denied claims that increased isolation stemming from pandemic-related lockdown measures have anything to do with 2020’s record number of medical suicides.

“Euthanasia is only granted in the event of hopeless suffering with a medical cause,” he told the outlet. “In case of loneliness, however bitter it may be, you can usually still ask the question: is there really no other solution for this than death? Otherwise you are playing with the limits of the law.”

Agnes Wolbert, a pro-euthanasia activist, celebrated the sky-high euthanasia rates, calling them “a great achievement.”

“It is a great achievement that people can die in this way at home, and certainly isn’t self-evident when you look abroad,” Wolbert told Dutch News. “This is a great compliment to GPs, who carry out more than 80% of euthanasia cases themselves, and are ever more often supported by experts from the Expertisecentrum Euthanasie.”

The year before, in 2019, Live Action reported that a quarter of all deaths in the Netherlands are medically-assisted suicides. Steven Pleiter, chairman of the Euthanasia Expertise Center, even predicted that euthanasia deaths will double in less than a decade.

“The post-war generation, the elderly of today, have had a free upbringing and have emphatic ideas about their end of life,” Pleiter said, according to Live Action. “In the national figures, I expect to double again in the next eight years, given the increasing number of elderly people.”

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