143 lives lost to euthanasia and assisted suicide in less than a year

A total of 143 people ended their lives through euthanasia or assisted suicide since November 7, 2021, when the practices became legal in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health release statistics on so-called “assisted dying,” quarterly.  The most recent information was published on their website on Friday, and covers the period from November 7, 2021 until June 30, 2022. 

Applications have been made by 400 people to be assessed as eligible to end their lives prematurely.  A steady increase in applications can be observed.

Of the 400 applications:

The number of applications for euthanasia and assisted suicide has steadily increased from November 7, 2021 when the End of Life Choice Act came into force.
  • 143 people have been killed by a medical practitioner, or been prescribed the lethal drugs to end their own lives.
  • 44 people have had their application approved, but have not yet ended their lives prematurely.
  • 57 people are awaiting the outcome of their assessment
  • 68 people were deemed not eligible.

Of those who made an application to end their lives by euthanasia or assisted suicide, 23 withdrew their applications, and 62 people died without intervention.

Of note is the very low number of applicants who have been assessed by a psychiatrist.  Only three people have had their mental state evaluated out of 190 patients approved.  Physicians and nurse practitioners are largely making the decision that a person is of sound mind and capable of making a decision to kill themselves, or be killed.

More women (54.3%) than men (45.8%) have applied to die by euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Older persons are requesting euthanasia and assisted suicide at a greater rate than younger people, with those over 65 making up 75% of the applicants.

Applicants are most likely to be NZ European than any other ethnicity (79.5%).

Although the majority of deaths by euthanasia or assisted suicide have been taking place at the person’s home or another private residence, it is important to note that aged care facilities, hospices, and DHB facilities (hospitals?) are also stated as locations. 

More information about euthanasia and assisted suicide can be found here.

The number of people who have chosen to be killed by euthanasia or assisted suicide is heartbreaking, most especially for family and friends who have tried to intervene (or would have had they known), but have been helpless in the face of the law.

This article has been updated in accordance with the revised information on the Ministry of Health website (21 July, 2022). Previously, we reported that 146 deaths had occurred.

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