Euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands rose last year

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Euthanasia and assisted suicide deaths in the Netherlands rose considerably in the past year.

The number of people who chose to die in this manner reached 8,720 in 2022, up 14 per cent on the previous year, according to latest official figures.

They accounted for 5.1 per cent of all deaths in the Netherlands in 2022  - up from 4.5 per cent on the year before.

The figures recorded the euthanasia of 288 people who had dementia, up by over a third (34%) on 2021 figures. 

The number of elderly euthanised for health reasons last year reached 379, up 23% from 2021. They included 58 people who decided to be euthanised together with their partner as a couple. 

Another 115 people with severe psychiatric illness were euthanised, the same number as in 2021. 

The steady rise in euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands has worried opponents of the practice in the UK, where fresh attempts have been launched to change the law.

A recent peer-reviewed study by the Anscombe Bioethics Centre found that countries where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal have seen an increase in overall suicide rates.

Opponents in the UK fear a "slippery slope" if assisted suicide is legalised here, pointing to Canada which is considering expanding its laws so that children and people with mental illness can qualify.