Switzerland Is One of the World’s Happiest Countries And One of Its “Suicide Capitals”

New data from the country’s assisted suicide clinics reveal demographics about who is most likely to seek help in ending their own life

Photo: aiace telamonio

Switzerland is regularly ranked as one of the happiest nations on Earth, thanks to its high standard of living, universal health care and beautiful natural resoucres. It also has one of the highest sucide rates in Europe.

Although suicides in Switzerland have been declining since the 1980s, the nation still loses around 1,000 people per year to suicide. As The Local points out, that's three times as many people who die in car wrecks in the country. 

Switzerland has clinics for assisted suicide, which has been legal since 1941. In recent years, the country has earned some notoriety as both a "suicide capital" and a "suicide tourism" hotspot in Europe. People from other nations with less liberal laws or services surrounding suicide are legally allowed to end their lives in Switzerland, at least so far as the Swiss government is concerned. 

A new study provides some insight into who most often visits those clinics and follows through with their suicidal plans. "Women, the divorced, those living alone, the more educated, those with no religious affiliation, and those from wealthier areas" were most frequently reported in the clinics' records, the researchers found.

Most people registered an underlying reason for wanting to die such as cancer or another illness, the researchers say, but around 16 percent left that section blank. As Ambros Uchtenhagen, a Swiss psychiatrist, told The Local, "Not everybody is happy here."  

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