Switzerland: a suicide magnet

Michael Cook
1 Jun 2013
Reproduced with Permission

To describe Switzerland as a Mecca for suicide tourism is hyperbole, but suicide facilities would draw as many people as yodelling and cowbells. The Australian euthanasia activist, Dr Philip Nitschke, is even engaging a travel agent to buy one-way tickets to Zurich for members of his organisation, Exit International . The agency would also handle all the paperwork required by the assisted suicide clinic run by Dignitas.

"They need medical records to explain how sick they are, proof of residence, passports and certified extracts of birth certificates," Dr Nitschke told News.com.au . "People who are that ill, if they are thinking of making this journey, it's a lot of work and almost impossible for them. They also need supportive letters from family members." The service will cost about A$1000.

It also emerged this week that an unnamed 83-year-old man became the first Briton to end his life at Dignitas because he was in the early stage of dementia. A leading campaigner for assisted suicide in the UK, Michael Irwin , helped get a psychiatric evaluation earlier this year for him. He told The Independent that "He was a sensible, professional person in the early stages of dementia and knew what dementia will involve. The family are very pleased that it all happened the way he wanted it, with dignity."

Mr Irwin is a well-known figure in the UK who has helped a number of people to die. Although he has never been arrested, in 2005 he was struck off the medical register for serious professional misconduct after he helped a fellow euthanasia campaigner to commit suicide. According to the London Times he foresees that there will be many more visitors to Dignitas as the number of people with dementia rises.