“Murder” upon request by the victim – Swiss laws are driving “suicide tourism” to Switzerland

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Source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/20/health/suicide-tourism-switzerland/

Source: http://cf.mp-cdn.net/dc/d5/ab54e8f4b80952b3756e7e8a3493-should-assisted-suicide-be-legalized.jpg

Switzerland legally permits assisted suicide. Article 115 of the Swiss Criminal Code, in effect since 1942, states that “inciting and assisting suicide” is only criminal if “any person for selfish motives incites or assists another to commit or attempt to commit suicide, and if that other person thereafter commits or attempts to commit suicide”. The “procedure of suicide,” the idea and the act, are decriminalized.

Assisted suicide is distinct from euthanasia: the action of suicide has always to be taken by the person willing to die; they must administer the pills or IV solution themselves. This practice is legal and protects “assisting” individuals from prosecution. Even though a police inquiry must be started (as in every “unnatural death”), cases are only open briefly. Prosecution only happens if there are doubts raised. In contrast to other countries where assisted suicide is legal, medical personnel are not required.

Several organizations (e.g. Dignitas and Exit International) sell packages, which include legal assistance, support for family and friends, and a private and dignified space. For the Swiss, this growing business has made assisted suicide a social norm. For others, Switzerland’s legal situation has given rise to “suicide tourism”.

Opponents argue that assisting mentally ill people produces doubts as to whether the person truly wished to die, or if this were merely a symptom of their disease. Some elderly patients feel they would otherwise be a burden on their families, and critics hold that this cause is insufficient justification.

In our opinion, we firmly support the option to die with assisted suicide. This ensures the preservation of one’s human rights, dignity, and autonomy without involving outside people. It is a safe alternative to unreliable and dangerous suicidal attempts. We support those with the means and resources to end their life in Switzerland, if they are unable to do so in their home countries. We also endorse legal reforms to permit assisted suicide elsewhere — in particular, the Right-To-Die bill for terminally ill patients before the Maryland General Assembly this term.

Video

DISCLAIMER: This video tapes a woman who ends her life with a sodium phenobarbital mixture through a Swiss Assisted Suicide Organization which may be disturbing for some people.

VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-_uEmdmSsY

Links and Other Resources

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia_in_Switzerland

Swiss Patients Rights Council: Website of the Swiss Patients Rights Council with general information for patients http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/switzerland/

Information on a case on European Court of Human Rights http://www.adfmedia.org/files/SwitzerlandSubmission.pdf?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Voters of Canton Zurich Keep Suicide Tourism Alive http://www.cbsnews.com/news/zurich-voters-keep-suicide-tourism-alive/

Dignitas http://www.dignitas.ch/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&lang=en

Exit  International

https://twitter.com/peacefulpill

www.exitinternational.net

http://lostallhope.com/euthanasia-assisted-suicide

Academic Papers

Assisted suicide in Switzerland and the “Suicide Tourism” culture:

http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2014/07/03/medethics-2014-102091.short?g=w_jme_ahead_tab

http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/hastings_center_report/v037/37.3appel.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1125125/

Media coverage

CNN http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/20/health/suicide-tourism-switzerland/

The Atlantic

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/going-to-switzerland-is-a-euphemism-for-assisted-suicide/379182/

BBC Documentary “When Assistance Dying is Legal” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014dkr1

Euthanasia Guidance and Research Organization http://www.assistedsuicide.org/suicide_laws.html

Coverage of Brittany Maynard’s death with dignity and the current state of assisted suicide laws in the United States http://time.com/3551560/brittany-maynard-right-to-die-laws/

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4 Responses to ““Murder” upon request by the victim – Swiss laws are driving “suicide tourism” to Switzerland”

  1. juliahmoon Says:

    Thank you for doing this. After working in the medical profession for some time, I have seen a lot of death, and a lot of different kinds of death. I have seen children dying in the emergency room after two hours of CPR from a gunshot wound with families inconsolable; I have seen families holding their loved ones hands as they die in pain and sun-downing from protracted illnesses; and I have also had parents thank me for removing care from their hours old infant so they could have a few precious moments without the hustle of an intensive care unit. Death is something we all fear, but can never avoid. I think the idea of physician assisted suicide is one that is difficult for most, no matter what your religious beliefs. We are taught from an early age that taking a life is wrong, no matter whose life that is. However, we are also taught that our bodies are our own, and the juxtaposition of these two concepts is one that is completely embodied in this argument. Until anyone can make a rational medical justification for why someone MUST be in pain (physical or emotional) until their last breath, we have no choice as a society other than to decriminalize physician assisted suicide as Switzerland has done.

  2. cliffweideman Says:


    The book ‘Pass The Ball!’ has important Spiritual messages, and should be read and shared.

  3. mohammadabbaskhan Says:

    It is a very interesting and engaging blog. It is good to see that you have pointed out difference between assisted suicides and euthanasia. I can see your point to bring out legal reforms to permit assisted suicide but I beg to differ with your opinion. I would like to cite an example of Connecticut which I read on the internet. In 2014, Connecticut legislators enacted a pilot program regarding medical orders at the end of life. These forms are given to medical and hospital personnel to declare in advance the level of intervention a person wants when receiving emergency or end of life care. I think this is a good approach towards crafting laws that will actually help the most people. In my opinion our legislators should increase awareness and access to palliative care and hospice, getting high wages for home health care and their aides. This will also create more jobs. I guess a required mandatory training for doctors on pain management techniques can also prevent undermining patient’s battle against death.
    I would also like to draw your attention towards the example of Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, the top reasons people give for getting a deadly prescription are fear of losing autonomy followed by fear of being less able to engage in activities and fear of loss of dignity. In my view these are not good enough reasons to keel over the medical axiom of “first, do no harm.”

  4. Sara G. Says:

    Abbas,

    Thank you for your comment. You bring up some interesting points. I would like to point out that in Switzerland, physicians and other medical personnel are completely out of the picture when it comes to assisted suicide. Also, this does not take into account advance directives like living wills or DNR orders. For Dignitas and Exit International you do not have pay in advance for a membership. You could theoretically pay up front and get the necessary drugs and die that day. In the Brittany Maynard case she had to go to Oregon to die. I’m also unsure if it would create more jobs. Some patients don’t have the money to pay for extended care including hospice which is not always covered by insurance. We present this as an option to a growing problem of how to care for our elders and whether their quality of life is as they wanted or not. A DNR order is not sufficient as a form of assisted suicide and unfortunately so many people in the US and other countries do not have advance directives to order a DNR because they do not want to think about it or the issue has not yet come up.

    Our biggest point is that this does not violate the Hippocratic oath because the doctors are not responsible for doing harm and if people wish to end their lives in this way by traveling to Switzerland, they should be able to do so.

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