- - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

GENEVA — The number of assisted suicides in Switzerland has increased steadily since the late 1990s and now makes up about five of every 1,000 deaths.

The first official figures compiled by Swiss authorities show that cases of assisted suicide rose from 43 in 1998 to 300 in 2009.

The Federal Statistical Office says almost 90 percent of cases involved people 55 or older.

More women than men seek assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since the early 20th century, and several groups provide counseling and medical support to those wanting to kill themselves.

The figures released Tuesday cover only assisted suicides by Swiss residents.

Groups such as Dignitas that provide services to foreign residents keep separate records.

TONGA

Islanders mourn king, grow wary of successor

NUKU’ALOFA — Homes swathed in purple and black formed a bright bow running from the countryside to cities of Tonga as the mourning nation honored and buried their late King George Tupou V on Tuesday.

That so many took the care to adorn their homes and businesses testifies to the reverence Tongans give to the idea of the monarchy, even after the king ceded many of his own powers in 2008 to usher in an era of democracy.

But his March 18 death is also raising questions about whether his younger brother, Tupou VI, will continue his legacy.

The new king is seen by many here as more conservative than his predecessor, and some fear he could stall or even reverse the political progress made in this small Pacific island nation.

TURKEY

Ex-army chief rejects terrorism charges

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