Five out of every 1,000 deaths in Switzerland now involve assisted suicide, with women more likely to die this way than men, according to the first official figures released.
authorities recorded a steady rise of assisted suicides in recent years, from 43 in 1998 to 297 in 2009. Earlier figures are not available, even though assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1942. The figures were compiled as part of a government effort to scrutinise the work of assisted suicide groups who provide counselling and a lethal cocktail of drugs to those wanting to kill themselves. Last year the government dropped plans to impose tighter rules on their work, saying new laws could infringe on people’s personal freedoms. The survey shows almost 90 per cent of cases involved people aged 55 or over. Only 1 per cent involved people under 35 – or about 20 deaths over the 12-year period.
The data also show more women sought assisted suicide than men, making up about 55 per cent of cases.