Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Women more likely to receive help to die than men

19.02.2014
Organisations involved in assisted suicide help women die more frequently than men. In addition, those living alone, the divorced and well-educated people make above-average use of assisted suicide. This has been demonstrated by a study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

In Switzerland, it is legal to assist suicide for altruistic reasons. Doctors in this country are permitted to support patients for whom a cure is not available and whose suffering is unbearable.

Opponents of assisted suicide fear that over time the threshold could be lowered and vulnerable people could even be forced to bring their life to an end in this way. Researchers led by Matthias Egger at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern have now investigated whether these fears are supported by the data.

1,301 cases

The right-to-die organisations Exit Deutsche Schweiz, Exit Suisse Romande and Dignitas provided the Swiss Federal Statistical Office with anonymised data on a total of 1,301 cases of assisted suicide provided by the organisations to Swiss residents between 2003 and 2008. The researchers linked the information to data from the Swiss National Cohort – a cohort study of the Swiss population that is based on anonymised census data. These links produced information including the place of residence of the people concerned, their level of education, whether they lived alone and whether they had children.

The study, which has just been published (*), showed that more women than men (740 women compared with 561 men) die from assisted suicide. The proportion of women is also higher when the fact that there are more older women than older men is taken into account. People living alone and those who are divorced are also more likely to seek an assisted suicide than married and socially integrated persons. Younger people with children seek out suicide assistance less frequently than those who have no children; although the existence of children appears not to offer any protection among older people. “The results indicate that there could well be vulnerable groups,” says Matthias Egger. “Social isolation and loneliness are known to be risk factors for suicide, and this might also be the case for assisted suicide.”

In wealthy residential areas

The study also shows that better-educated people living in urban locations and in wealthy residential areas are more likely to seek help in dying. “These findings are not consistent with the theory that pressure on socially weaker people leads to increased levels of assisted suicide,” says Egger. “On the other hand, educated people who are well-placed financially can of course also feel isolated and lonely.” Educated, wealthy people might also have easier access to assisted suicide, for financial reasons for example.

In 1,093 of the 1,301 cases of assisted suicide, the researchers had additional information from the death certificate on the people who had sought assisted suicide. In almost half of these cases the people concerned had been suffering from cancer. The proportion of people suffering from incurable degenerative diseases of the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was also high.

Careful oversight

In around 200 of the 1,300 reported cases, the official death certificate failed to record the fatal illness from which the person concerned had been suffering at the time of assisted suicide. The researchers recommend that a register be created in which all assisted suicides are recorded anonymously. “Such a controversial topic demands careful oversight by the State,” says Egger.

(*) Nicole Steck, Christoph Junker, Maud Maessen, Thomas Reisch, Marcel Zwahlen, and Matthias Egger for the Swiss National Cohort (2014). Suicide assisted by Right-to-Die Associations: Population based cohort study. International Journal of Epidemiology online. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyu010

(Available to journalists in PDF format from the SNSF: com@snf.ch)

Contact
Prof Matthias Egger
Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine
University of Bern
Finkenhubelweg 11
3012 Bern
Phone: +41 79 239 97 17
E-mail: egger@ispm.unibe.ch
Weitere Informationen:
http://www.snf.ch/en/researchinFocus/media/press-releases/Pages/default.aspx

Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw
Further information:
http://www.snf.ch/en

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

nachricht Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>