Not only the dying want to end life
Swiss study finds many seeking euthanasia don't suffer from terminal illness. -Reuters
Thu, Nov 06, 2008
GENEVA: Switzerland's liberal euthanasia laws, which critics say encourage 'death tourism', have come under renewed scrutiny after a study showed that increasing numbers of people seeking assisted suicides do not suffer from a terminal illness.
Researchers from the University of Zurich and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences said many elderly people who have sought assistance to end their lives in Switzerland suffered from chronic and other non-life-threatening conditions.
'Being tired of life and in very poor health are becoming more frequent reasons to seek help to commit suicide than in the past,' said Ms Susanne Fischer, co-author of the review of assisted suicides in Zurich undertaken by two right-to-die groups, Exit and Dignitas. The study was released on Tuesday.
Those groups have sparked international controversy in past years alongside a rise in 'death tourism' to Switzerland.
The study analysed details of 421 people who had assisted suicides between 2001 and 2004 in Zurich - 274 with the help of Dignitas and 147 with Exit - and compared them with details of 149 suicides assisted by Exit from 1990 to 2000.
Among those who had assisted suicides with Dignitas, 79 per cent had terminal illnesses such as cancer, and for Exit 67 per cent were terminally ill.
From 1990 to 2000, some 78 per cent of those who ended their lives with the help of Exit had fatal conditions, it found.
Exit rejected the study's conclusions in a statement saying there was 'no trend' of people justifying their wish to die with 'vague sick-of-life' symptoms.
'The figures are not representative of all Switzerland. Also, the researchers did not have the full diagnosis,' said Mr Bernhard Sutter of Exit's board.
'We help only people with fatal...