Genevieve Lhermitte: Belgian Mother Euthanised After Killing Her Five Children

A Belgian woman who killed her five children 16 years ago has been put to death by her own choice.

Genevieve Lhermitte killed her son and four daughters, ages 3 to 14, while their father was away on February 28, 2007, in the town of Nivelles.

She then tried to kill herself, but she couldn’t do it, so she called 911 for help.

Genevieve Lhermitte
Genevieve Lhermitte

In 2008, the 56-year-old man was given a life sentence. In 2019, he was moved to a psychiatric hospital.

In Belgium, the law lets people choose to be euthanized if they are suffering from “unbearable” mental pain that can’t be healed, not just physical pain. The person must know what they want and be able to explain it in a way that makes sense and is consistent.

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“It is this specific procedure that Mrs Lhermitte followed, with the various medical opinions having been collected,” her lawyer said.

Psychologist Emilie Maroit told the RTL-TVI channel that Lhermitte likely chose to die on 28 February in a “symbolic gesture in respect for her children”.

“It may also have been for her to finish what she started, because basically she wanted to end her life when she killed them,” the psychologist said.

Belgium was shocked by the five murders in 2007 and the subsequent trial.

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During Lhermitte’s trial, her lawyers said that she was mentally ill and shouldn’t go to prison. But the jury found that she had planned to kill him, giving her a life sentence in prison.

Lhermitte sued a former psychiatrist in civil court in 2010, asking for up to 3 million euros (£2,655,840). She said the psychiatrist’s “inaction” didn’t stop the murders, but she gave up the fight after 10 years.

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In Belgium, 2,966 people died by euthanasia in 2022. This is 10% more than in 2021. Cancer is still the most common cause, but officials said that in almost three out of every four cases, the patient had “multiple types of suffering, both physical and mental.”

Since 2014, Belgium has let both adults and children get help to die if they are dying and in a lot of pain and if their parents agree.

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