Euthanasia cases increase by 15 per cent

More than 3,400 patients underwent euthanasia in Belgium last year, an increase of 15 per cent compared to 2022, the Federal Commission for the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia (FCCEE) said on Tuesday.

The FCCEE received 3,423 registration documents regarding euthanasia in 2023, representing 3.1 per cent of all deaths in Belgium. The vast majority (70.7 per cent) of patients were over 70 years old, and 42.1 per cent were over 80. 1.1 per cent of cases involved patients younger than 40.

Only one minor underwent euthanasia in 2023, a 16-year-old girl with a brain tumour who donated her organs after her death. Euthanasia of minors remains rare in Belgium. The commission confirmed five cases have been reported since the law was extended to minors in 2014.

Physical and psychological suffering

Most patients who chose euthanasia in 2023 had cancer (55.5 per cent), a combination of chronic and incurable conditions (23.2 per cent) or nervous sytem diseases such as ALS (9.6 per cent). Euthanasia due to psychiatric conditions, such as mood disorders, increased slightly but remained exceptional at 1.4 per cent. People with cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer's, represented 1.2 per cent of cases.

While the majority of cases concerned patients who experienced both physical and psychological suffering, a small percentage were treated for psychological distress. For example, one cancer patient's physical pain was alleviated by painkillers, but they experienced deep psychological issues due to the loss of dignity and autonomy.

Seven out of 10 registration documents were in Dutch, with the others in French. This refers to the language of the doctor, not necessarily that of the patient, but suggests that euthanasia is more prevalent in Flanders.

In nearly 80 per cent of cases, the doctor anticipated the patient's death in the near future. Most procedures in 2023 were performed at the individual's home, while the rest were conducted in hospitals, palliative units or residential care centres.

The FCCEE also reported that 110 patients came to Belgium to undergo euthanasia. These were primarily from France, where active euthanasia is prohibited.



Related news

Website preview
An increasing number of foreigners request euthanasia in Belgium
Some 150 foreigners have received euthanasia in Belgium over the past six years. Most patients came from France and were over 50 years old. Most...
Website preview
Implementation of euthanasia in Belgium continues to face problems
The implementation of euthanasia in Belgium continues to face problems. In recent years, doctors have continued to face problematic situations...

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels