Six Australians Suicide in Switzerland

At least six Australians were assisted to suicide in Switzerland in 2018.

The latest statistics released by Dignitas reveal that it has assisted a total of 32 Australians to suicide in Switzerland since 2003, with 5 cases in 2018 alone.

Additionally, David Goodall, was assisted to suicide at the Basel clinic of Eternal Spirit (lifecircle) in May 2018. Goodall was not terminally ill and had no major disease, so assisted suicide is apparently being offered also for those “tired of life”.

Euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland.  However the phrasing of the article in the Swiss Penal Code prohibiting assisting suicide has allowed organisations such as Dignitas, Eternal Spirit (lifecircle) and Exit to offer assisted suicide.

Article 115 reads “Any person who for selfish motives incites or assists another to commit or attempt to commit suicide shall, if that other person thereafter commits or attempts to commit suicide, be liable to a custodial sentence not exceeding five years or to a monetary penalty”.

Increasing number of deaths

The qualifier, “for selfish motives” effectively allows Dignitas to offer assisted suicide to all comers on a “cost recovery” basis. Dignitas has assisted in 2771 suicides from 1998-2018. It charges between 7500 and 10500 Swiss francs plus VAT (roughly equivalent to between $A10,000 and  $A15,000) for an assisted suicide. The number of assisted suicides carried out by Dignitas in 2018 was 221, up 148% from 2009.

Only 6.5% of assisted suicides carried out by Dignitas have been of Swiss residents. The remaining 93.5% have involved suicide tourism, including for 32 Australians (five of these in 2018).

Eternal Spirit Foundation and its associated organisation lifecircle was founded in 2011. It also offers assisted suicide to foreigners as well as Swiss residents. No statistics are available to date. Assisted suicide is offered to anyone who does “not accept to be nursed without hope of improvement” or who has a disease which is “incurable and clearly leads to reduction in quality of life, although it does not lead to death in the near future.” Western Australian, David Goodall, was assisted to commit suicide at its Basel clinic in May 2018. Goodall was not terminally ill and had no major disease, so assisted suicide is apparently being offered also for those “tired of life”.

Another Swiss organisation, Exit, limits its assistance in suicide to Swiss residents. In 2015, Exit was responsible for 782 deaths by assisted suicide, up 345 from 583 in 2014. Of the 734 assisted suicides involving Exit in 2017 one on four (25%) were for “old age poly morbidities”, similar to the “stack of old age disorders” in the Netherlands.

Assisted suicides of Swiss residents rose dramatically from just 48 in 1998 to 965 in 2015 an increase of 66% from 583 in 2013. There is no age limit for assisted suicide and between 2010 and 2014 thirteen people under 35 years of age died by assisted suicide.

Deaths from assisted suicide represented 1.5% of all deaths of Swiss residents in 2017.

Read more on Switzerland here.

Warning: this article discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling, please seek help.

Lifeline: 13 11 14
www.lifeline.org.au


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