Navigation

Assisted suicide option remains in demand in Switzerland

Some 68 more people opted for assisted suicide to end their lives in Switzerland in 2020 than the previous year. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Some 1,282 seriously ill people ended their lives using the services of Swiss assisted suicide organisation EXIT last year, which is 68 more people than in 2019.

This content was published on February 22, 2021 - 13:50
swissinfo.ch/mga

There were no reported assisted suicides due to Covid-19, but the pandemic did force EXIT to reduce its activities between March 20 and May 20 last year, the organisation said on Monday.

EXIT Deutsche Schweiz, which covers the German and Italian-speaking parts of the country, saw a rise of 51 assisted suicides as it helped 913 people terminate their lives in 2020. More people living in French-speaking Switzerland also ended their lives last year, as 369 people used the services of EXIT Suisse Romande.

Around a third of people were suffering from cancer, while others had age-related illnesses, heart problems or were in chronic pain. The average age was 78.7 years, with more women (59%) opting to end their lives in this way.

Swiss law tolerates assisted suicide when patients commit the act themselves and helpers have no vested interest in their death. Assisted suicide has been legal in the country since the 1940s. 

Membership numbers of both EXIT groups increased last year to more than 166,000, a trend of new memberships that has also been observed so far in 2021.

Assisted suicides represent around 1.5% of the 67,000 deaths recorded on average in Switzerland each year.

Comments under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at english@swissinfo.ch.

Share this story

Join the conversation!

With a SWI account, you have the opportunity to contribute on our website.

You can Login or register here.