27 February 2023: EUTHANASIA - Figures for 2023

These figures relate to the registration documents for euthanasia cases carried out between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023 and reviewed by the Commission.

 A more detailed analysis of euthanasia cases reported in 2023 will be provided in the Commission's next biennial report (containing data from 2022 and 2023).

The number of registration documents received in 2023 was 3,423. The number of euthanasia cases registered rose by 15 % compared with 2022. The proportion of deaths by euthanasia reported in 2023 was 3,1% (compared with 2,5% in 2022) of all deaths in our country (source Statbel 25.01.2024).

Language of registration documents

70,8 % of registration documents were in Dutch, 29,2 % in French.

There has been a more or less similar increase in the number of declarations in both languages (an increase of of declarations 16% in Dutch and 14% in French).

Patient age

70,7 % of patients were aged over 70 and 42.1 % were over 80. Euthanasia in patients under the age of 40 remained very rare (1.1 %). Patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s were most likely to request euthanasia (74.7 %). The largest group of patients was in the 70 -79 age bracket (28.6 %).

In 2023, one declaration of euthanasia of a minor was registered.

Place of the act

The percentage of euthanasia cases taking place in the home fell slightly in 2023 (48.6 % versus 50.5% in 2022) , while the number of euthanasia cases taking place in nursing homes and rest homes continued to rise (17.6 % versus 16.4% in 2022).

In contrast, the percentage of euthanasia cases performed in hospitals and palliative care units remained stable
 (32 % versus 31.8% in 2022)

Advance declarations

0.6% of euthanasia cases involved unconscious patients who had made an advance declaration.

Time of death

In the vast majority of cases (79.2 %), the doctor felt that the patient's death was foreseeable in the short term. Patients whose death was clearly not expected in the short term were mainly suffering from polypathologies, whereas the death of cancer patients is rarely considered as such.


The conditions that prompted euthanasia cases were tumours (cancers) (55.5 %), a combination of several chronic refractory conditions (polypathologies) (23.2 %), diseases of the nervous system such as ALS or Charcot's disease (9.6 %), diseases of the circulatory system such as stroke (3,2 %), diseases of the respiratory system such as pulmonary fibrosis (3 %), psychiatric conditions such as personality disorders (1,4 %), cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (1.2 %), , diseases of the osteoarticular system such as arthropathies or myopathies (0.7%) and traumatic lesions such as a complication following surgery (0,6%). The other categories together accounted for 1.2% of conditions.

  • The oncology patient group remains the largest group requesting euthanasia. These were mainly malignant tumours of the digestive organs (e.g. stomach, colon), respiratory organs (e.g. lung), breast and and lymphoid, hematopoietic and related tissues (e.g. leukemia).
  • After oncological conditions, the major reason for euthanasia requests is still polypathologies (a combination of several conditions such as terminal heart failure (NYHA 3-4), haemiplegia due to a stroke and metastatic lung cancer). In 2023, the number of euthanasia cases carried out on patients with polypathologies was 793 or 23.2 % of the total number of euthanasia cases versus 528 patients in 2022 (19,6 %).
  • Requests for euthanasia based on psychiatric conditions such as personality disorders are increasing butremained marginal (1.4%). Requests for euthanasia based on cognitive disorders remain stable (1.2 %). 

As with all the euthanasia cases reviewed, the legal conditions were met (considered and repeated request from a capable patient; medical situation without a medical solution; constant, unrelievable and unbearable suffering caused by a serious and incurable condition).


For most patients, several types of suffering, both physical and psychological (not to be confused with psychiatric conditions), were observed simultaneously (76.2 %). Psychological suffering should not be confused with psychiatric illness. In fact, psychological suffering alone is the result of both psychiatric and somatic conditions. For example, a cancer patient whose physical suffering is alleviated by pain relief may experience only psychological suffering, such as loss of dignity or loss of autonomy. example: a cancer patient whose physical suffering is soothed by pain relief may feel only psychological suffering such as a loss of dignity or a loss of autonomy. This suffering was always the consequence of one or more serious and incurable conditions.

Patients living abroad

According to Section II of the declarations, in 2023, 110 patients residing abroad came to Belgium in order to be euthanised under the conditions of Belgian law. As the place of residence is not compulsory in this section, this is the minimum number.

This concerned patients suffering from diseases of the nervous system, tumours or polypathologies

60 % of the deaths were expected in the short term. Most of the patients were aged between 50 and 89. These patients mainly resided in France (101). The other countries of origin mentioned were: Germany, Netherlands, Spain, UK, Italy and South Korea.


The Commission found that all the declarations received met the essential requirements of the law, and none were forwarded to the Public Prosecutor.

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