More people interested in assisted dying
The number of Victorians requesting voluntary assisted dying is steadily rising since laws first began over a year ago.
A new report into the laws released on Tuesday shows 348 people applied to end their life since the laws were introduced in June last year.
In the first six months of their operation, 137 Victorians applied, rising to 211 in the second six months ending June 30 this year.
In total, 124 people died from taking the prescribed medications, with 46 in the first six months and 78 in the second.
Those applying to end their life must be deemed eligible before they are granted a permit.
Conditions include that they have lived in Victoria at least 12 months and can make decisions about voluntary assisted dying.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board report says the latest figures show access to voluntary assisted dying is growing, with eligible applications rising by half from the first six months of operation.
For the first time, details have also been revealed about who is requesting assisted dying.
Applicants were aged between 32 and 100, with the average age of 71. More than half were from Melbourne and more than half were Australian born.
Forty-four per cent were female and 55 per cent were male and 1 per cent, identified as "self described".
Loss of autonomy was frequently said to be the reason applicants gave for requesting assisted dying, the report said.
Other common reasons included being less able to do activities that make life enjoyable, losing control of body functions and loss of dignity.
Board chairperson Betty King said the COVID-19 pandemic had created more stress for people who are vulnerable and trying to self-isolate.
In the report, she says the ongoing requirement for face-to-face consultations has significantly affected those who are in regional areas or find it hard to travel due to their condition.
She called for teleconferencing to be allowed in order for consultations about assisted dying to continue.
"This board is repeating its call for the Commonwealth to reconsider making an exemption from the criminal code to allow Victorians, especially those in regional Victoria, to be able to have important conversations about voluntary assisted dying over the phone or via teleconference."
To request assisted dying, applicants must be diagnosed with a disease, illness or medical condition that is incurable, advanced and progressive.
Their condition must be expected to cause death within no more than six months or one year for a neurodegenerative condition.
Originally published as More people interested in assisted dying