December 4, 2022

Women overrepresented as clients of Swiss suicide groups

Older people more often just weary of life rather than ill

Two-thirds of assisted-suicide cases in Switzerland are women, according to a
recent study of the work of right-to-die organisations. The researchers also
identified "weariness of life rather than a fatal or hopeless medical condition"
as an increasingly common reason for older people to request help to kill
themselves.

A team from Zurich University analysed official records of such deaths in
Zurich from 2001 to 2004. Women accounted for two-thirds of the deaths, with the
largest group aged between 65 and 84. One in four of all patients were suffering
from non-fatal illnesses. Three per cent of those who were helped to die were
suffering from a mental disorder.

Why are women over-represented? Study author Georg Bosshard surmises that
women tend to verbalise their feelings and seek help more often than men.
Depression is more common amongst women and there are more women in older age
groups due to their longer life expectancy.

Curiously, the pattern of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands is different,
perhaps because doctors control assisted dying there. "It is known from studies
on end-of-life decisions in The Netherlands that doctors quite often receive
requests for assisted dying from people aged 80 years and over who are not
suffering from a terminal illness," they write.

"Dutch doctors … almost never grant such requests," the authors note. "In a
system where right-to-die organisations play an important role, assistance for
older people in dying appears to be considered as showing respect for their
self-determination." ~ Swiss
Info, Nov 4
; Journal of Medical
Ethics