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World-weary Swiss seniors seek suicide help

Lyssandra Sears · 9 May 2012, 09:40

Published: 09 May 2012 10:47 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 May 2012 09:40 GMT+02:00

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New figures show that more and more Swiss seniors are taking advantage of assisted suicide even when they do not suffer from any terminal diseases.

The latest reports from Exit, the organization that offers assisted suicide to the Swiss, show that one in every five French speakers and one in every three German speakers opting for assisted suicide are not suffering from a life-threatening illness, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

This section of the elderly are coming forward in ever increasing numbers, citing “weariness of life” together with a bad bill of health as the main reason for the decision. Although not terminal, many suffer from debilitating health, with incurable problems such as blindness, incontinence and mobility issues greatly reducing quality of life.

Exit is able to assist these people because, although they are not quadriplegic or suffering from terminal illnesses, they nevertheless meet the required criteria: the person’s prognosis must be for an incurable health issue leading either to death or disability, and physical and psychological pain and suffering must also be present.

“In addition, sometimes the last great hope [for some of these older people] in the winter of their lives is to join those who have already left," Jérôme Sobel, president of Exit in the west of Switzerland, told the newspaper.

Sobel explained that the expansion of types of cases taken on by Exit occurred as a result of requests from the organization’s members.

Nevertheless the practice is not without its critics.

For one, the practices seem to go against the non-binding code devised by the Central Ethics Committee of the Swiss Association of Medical Sciences. This code states that suicide assisted by a physician is only allowed where “the disease plaguing the patient suggests that the end of life is near”.

Sobel disagrees.

“If we still blindly followed the codes of medical ethics, there would be no legal abortion or assisted suicide today,” he says.

Bertrand Kiefer, chief editor of the Swiss Medical Review, urges caution.

“Agreeing too easily to meet the suicide demand of these seniors plays into the hands of a society where beauty, youth and performance are established as core values. Before responding to a death wish, we must ask if the people can find meaning in their lives despite their problems.”

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

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Your comments about this article

2012-07-01 18:53:42 by KathleenJE
I totally understand and support this action. We show humane actions towards our pets when they are in ill health and "put them to sleep" as it is called.It is euthanization. Why should we not show the same compassion for our own Human race? It is because some of the Human race have religious doctrines that say " suicide " is a sin. Not all Humans have the same beliefs, yet many governments have archaic laws which stem from religious dictates making suicide ( extending this law to euthanasia ) illegal and akin to malicious and "evil" murder. We should show the same compassion and dignity to our fellow Humans as we do to our cherished pets. Why should we force others to live with horrific, constant pain, terrible life restricting deformities, inability to live an enjoyable fulfilling life, JUST because they ARE HUMANS? We should allow euthanasia JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE HUMAN. Life should be looked at as a QUALITY of life, rather than QUANTITY of years keeping the body alive. No Human should have to suffer because of other Humans' religion, politics, ignorance of facts, herd mentality, etc. Compassion for our own, HUMANS, should be what rules us in such areas.
2012-05-09 21:24:29 by bramblebush
In the US, we are controlled by religious puritans who forbid everyone for participating in activities that is against their religion. You can humanely put down a dog, but a human must suffer a painful death......
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