Assisted Suicide On The Rise In Switzerland

More Swiss citizens are choosing to end their lives rather than suffer the ramifications of ill health and debilitating disease. According to news reports, assisted suicide rates soared by more than a quarter in just one year.

A newspaper report stated that there were 742 cases of assisted suicide in 2014, which increased by 26% from the previous year.

Switzerland is one of a few countries in the world where assisted suicide is legal. Many people choose to end their lives when suffering from a threatening illness.

A recent newspaper revealed the exact percentage of people ending their life from various diseases. In the most cases people where suffering from illnesses such as cancer (42 percent), neurodegenerative illnesses (14 percent), cardiovascular disease (11 percent) and musculoskeletal disease. (10 percent).

Nevertheless even though assisted suicide rates are rapidly increasing, statistics show that palliative care is not very popular in Switzerland.

Professor Steffen Eychmuller, head of the Palliative care centre at the University Hospital in Bern said that Switzerland’s emphasis on acute care and curative treatment is one of many valid reasons Switzerland is lagging behind in palliative care.

Professor Eychmuller said that one of the major reasons Switzerland is lagging behind in palliative care treatment is because of lack of experience, compared to countries like the United Kingdom Switzerland has a fairly recent record of palliative care treatment.

“In Switzerland palliative care came in very late, in the last six years, but I am optimistic that in time it will also be established on a far more normal basis,” Eychmuller said.

Palliative care treatment improves the life of people with serious illness by providing relief from symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life and ease the patient from pain in the remaining days of life.

Palliative care is usually provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists who work collaboratively with the patient’s doctor to provide support. It is appropriate at any age and stage of serious illness, and can be provided along with curative treatment.

Palliative care should not be confused with assisted suicide or death. Assisted suicide is a conscientious decision to end life, while palliative care provides relief from disease symptoms, easing and improving the quality of life before death.

Organizations that help individuals end their life like Dignitas and Exit consider assisted suicide as a final right. These organizations offer their services only to their members who must be Swiss residents or have permanent residency in Switzerland, the figures from those organizations show that assisted suicide or death is on the rise.

In 2015 Exit helped 213 people in French speaking Switzerland end their life, while in German speaking Switzerland the figure was 782, which is 30% higher than the previous year.