Recent figures show assisted suicide increased by 26% in 2014, a rise of 250% since 2009. The rise partly reflects an aging population.
In 2014, 742 people in Switzerland were helped to end their lives. This represents 1.2% of deaths for the year. 94% were over 55, and the vast majority were suffering from a serious terminal illness. The split between men and women was 320 men and 422 women, a difference that reflects the higher percentage of women in the population as age advances. The rates per 100,000 were 10 for men and 9 for women.
The most common reason behind assisted suicides was cancer, which accounted for 42% of the total. Cancer was followed by neurodegenerative (14%), cardiovascular (11%) and musculoskeletal (10%) diseases.
The canton of Zurich lead the way, with assisted suicide accounting for 1.4% of deaths from 2010 to 2014. The rate was higher than the Swiss average (0.8%) in Geneva (1.3%), Neuchâtel (1.2%), Appenzell Ausserrhoden (1.1%), Vaud (1.0%) and Zug (0.9%).
The number ending their lives without assistance in 2014 was stable at 1,028, however in contrast to assisted suicide, more men than women fell into this category. 754 men, compared to 274 women took their own lives. These numbers fell from more than 1,600 in the mid 1980s, as assisted suicide was chosen as an alternative. In 2014, unassisted suicide rates were 15.8 per 100,000 for men, and 5.6 per 100,000 for women, and 10.9 per 100,000 overall.
Big differences between unassisted and assisted suicide were found between age and gender in the two groups. Unassisted suicide touched all age groups, while assisted suicide was favoured by older people. In addition, 10 men took their own lives for every 4 women, compared to 13 women for every 10 men when it came to assisted suicide.
According to the World Health Organisation, 1.4% of global deaths were the result of suicide in 2012. The Republic of Korea (36.8 per 100,000) had the highest rate, and Jamaica (1.2 per 100,000) the lowest. In Europe, those nations with the highest rates were Russia (22.3), Kazakhstan (24.2), Hungary (25.4) and Lithuania (33.5).