Assisted suicide and euthanasia are becoming legal in a growing number of countries and in those where the practice has been allowed, the number of those who die with assistance is increasing.
While surveys show that a majority of people support assisted suicide, the practice has not been without controversy as it is expanding. Most recently, the case of Canadian Alan Nichols has been making headlines. The 61-year-old who suffered from depression and was thought to be suicidal was granted his request to die by euthanasia upon listing his non-mental health issue—required by Canadian law—as severe hearing loss. His family reported the case to police as they believe that Nichols did not have any health problems severe enough to qualify him for assisted dying.
This chart shows the countries with the highest number of people who have died by assisted suicide … [+] or euthanasia in 2021.
Data available from country and state administrations shows that the number of those dying with assistance has been rising much faster in Canada in the past three years than in other countries where the practice is legal. The Netherlands and Belgium, like Canada, allow both euthanasia and assisted suicide and have seen numbers rise more slowly. The practice has already been legal there since the early 2000s, however, while Canada legalized it in 2015.
In addition, Canada has considered people who like Nichols have a disability but are not terminally ill for assisted dying since early 2021. This has been condemned by disability advocates. Like the types of assisted dying offered, who qualifies for them varies around the world, ranging from those who are deemed terminally ill or those who suffer from a degenerative disease to those who are in severe pain or are considered incurably ill. In 2021, assisted dying accounted for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada.
Medication-assisted suicide in the U.S.
The United States also saw a somewhat faster rise in those dying by medication-assisted suicide, which was also aided by the fact that four states—New Jersey, Hawaii, Maine and New Mexico—legalized it between 2018 and 2021, while two more populous ones, Colorado and California, started the practice in 2016.
Voluntary euthanasia—which is when a patient is administered deadly drugs upon his or her request—is not legal in the United States. Only the dispensing of drugs to patients who wish to die (and qualify), referred to as physician-assisted suicide, is. In addition to Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Canada, voluntary euthanasia has recently become legal or will shortly become legal in Colombia, Spain, New Zealand and several Australian states.
According to the Annals of Palliative Medicine, Switzerland is another practitioner of physician-assisted suicide, but not euthanasia. 1,196 people died with assistance in the country in 2019, the latest year on record. While assisted suicide laws are being introduced in Austria, courts have recently overturned bans in Germany and Italy as well.

Charted by Statista

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