People choosing assisted suicide are mostly women


Central Europe


Photo AFP, Sebastien Bozon

One year after the introduction of assisted suicide in Austria, the Alpine country reviews the results. Especially womenseem to be affected.

The proportion of women among Austrians considering assisted suicide is strikingly high, reports the Catholic German newspaper Die Tagespost. However, the 67 per cent of female patients coincides with international studies that suggest that women are among a risk group for assisted suicide. Some reasons for this are that they are more likely to outlive their partners, live alone longer, and suffer from loneliness or fear of burdening others. In addition, women are more likely to be affected by poverty and depression in old age.

In total, 59 people requested assisted suicide. Although one request was aborted later, 23 deadly poison suicides were completed.

All these statistics arise from a recently presented report by the Austrian Palliative Society (OPG). Since there is no accompanying scientific research on assisted suicide in Austria on the part of the Ministry of Health, OPG collects data from the practice itself. For this purpose, an online reporting system was created with the possibility of anonymous input for those relatives, carers or psychologists who witness or look after other people in connection with assisted suicide or its initiation.


The most common reason for a request for assisted suicide is suffering experienced or feared in the future in the form of existential suffering. The second most common reason given by almost half of those affected for their desire for assisted suicide was distressing physical symptoms. The fear of a loss of autonomy was mentioned six times.

In almost 60 per cent (33 cases), the patients decided against making a death directive after comprehensive counselling about palliative care options. In 75 per cent of the 23 assisted suicides, unbearable physical symptoms were a major factor in the decision to commit suicide.


As of December 2022, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, a total of 111 death wills had been issued in Austria. Ninety lethal preparations had been delivered. According to the ministry, the number of preparations used is “in the single digits”, as is the number of preparations returned after a year.

This is in striking discrepancy with the reports received by the OPG of 23 completed assisted suicides. According to OPG President Weixler, this was apparently due to the problem of the “notoriously sloppy private examination of the dead”. He considers the OPG data to be “more credible”.



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