The Netherlands is the leading country when it comes to organized end of life care, in other words, euthanasia - from the greek "eu" (good) and "thanatos" (death) - and the statistics do not lie! In comparison with five years ago, there has been a 67% increment in the demand of assisted death, and it seems to be an unstoppable trend!
Organised end of life is, without a shadow of doubt, a very controversial topic! However, in words of Steven Pleiter, director at The Levenseindekliniek, a clinic specialized in euthanasia, the taboo around assisted death is disappearing as time goes by. The reason?
Pleiter says “There is a generation coming up, the postwar generation, which is now coming to the life stage in which they will die, and this generation has a far more clear and expressed opinion about how to shape their own life end. I expect far more growth in the years to come."
With the constant progress in science and medical research, our lifespan is getting longer, however, there are still certain diseases that escape our control and bring unbearable suffering to the patients and those around them. Life is not about length anymore, but about quality, and if we are focused on our quality of life, why not think about our quality of death?
The law regarding the euthanasia, created in 2002, sets the requirements for euthanasia under the following lines: The patient needs to formulate a voluntary and well considered request, provided that they are in unbearable pain and there is no alternative treatment or prospect of improvement.
This year, there have been 18,000 requests to die in the Netherlands, 67% more than in 2012. At the beginning, the first patients to be helped through the process of death where, in a vast majority (98%) terminally ill people who had less than a week to live. Nowadays, this rate has dropped down to 70%.
Why so? It seems that patients are not only taken into account terminal illnesses, but also the kind of handicaps and diseases, even within the mental illness spectrum that prevents them from living fulfilling lives. Nonetheless, not every request meets approval. The whole process is supervised by a series of doctors who will have the final say.
Be as it may, the population is slowly gaining control over the way in which they want to die and owning the process. Perhaps we are one step closer to a more death positive society? Only time will tell!