Euthanasia deaths double in Belgium

The number of people undergoing euthanasia in Belgium has doubled in only six years. In 2007 only 2% of deaths were attributed to euthanasia. By 2013 the figure had jumped to 4.6% according to figures produced by a research group linked to the universities of Ghent and Brussels (VUB).

Researchers from the Care Research Group see two grounds for the rise: more and more people are requesting the procedure, while more and more doctors are prepared to carry it out.

In only six years the number of people requesting euthanasia soared from 3.5% of the number of deaths in 2007 to 6% in 2013. In 2013 three-quarters of requests were met, while in 2007 the figure was only half.

The researchers point to growing acceptance of euthanasia in society at large. Researcher Luc Deliens: "For the first time the figures are higher in Belgium, though the Netherlands has a longer history with the practice."

6,000 doctors, signatories of death certificates, were quizzed as part of the research, the results of which are published in "New England Journal of Medicine".

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