Assisted suicide numbers doubled in Switzerland

Aug 21, 2014, 6:13 PM EDT
Spectators wave Swiss flags during day one of the 22nd European Athletics Championships at Stadium Letzigrund on August 12, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Suicide tourism is a term given to the act of people not native to Switzerland traveling to the country in order to avail themselves of the assisted suicide services. Four of the six services in Switzerland offer assisted suicide for foreigners, and the numbers of foreigners traveling to Switzerland to "die with dignity" has doubled over the last four years.

The Belfast Telegraph describes the findings of the study:

One in five people who travelled to Zurich for assisted suicide between 2008 and 2012 were from the UK, researchers found.
Experts from the University of Zurich analysed data from the Zurich Institute of Legal Medicine database on assisted suicide of non-Swiss residents during the five year period.
They looked at 611 cases from 31 countries around the world - 126 of which were people from Britain.
Their paper, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, found that in 2008 there were 123 cases of suicide tourism.
This dipped to 86 cases in 2009 and increased steadily to 2012 when it reached 172 cases.
Overall, 58.5% of cases were women and the median age of those using these services was 69 - although the ages of people seeking help ranged from 23 to 97.
Medical News Today discusses the circumstances for assisted suicide in Switzerland:
Dignitas is the main AS organization operating near Zurich and, between its Swiss and German arms, has over 5,500 members in 60 different countries. "To live with dignity - to die with dignity" is the motto of the organization, which is a member of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies.
To investigate whether the availability of suicide tourism in Switzerland had influenced legal changes in AS in other countries, as well as who was going to Switzerland for help with committing suicide, the researchers searched databases of the Institute of Legal Medicine in Zurich for details of investigations and post-mortem exams among non-Swiss nationals who had AS between 2008-2012.