Assisted suicide: Wait list for new members of Switzerland's Exit

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Assisted suicide: Wait list for new members of Switzerland's Exit

A shortage of volunteers means new members of Swiss assisted suicide organization Exit will have to wait to use its services.


Exit provides an assisted suicide service – which is legal in Switzerland as long as certain conditions are met – to Swiss citizens and long-term residents of the country.

Members can pay a yearly fee of 45 Swiss francs (€40) or take out a life-time membership to the organization which is based in the German-speaking part of the country (Exit A.D.M.D provides a similar service in the French-speaking part of Switzerland).

After the first three years of membership, people can use Exit's assisted-suicide services at no cost.

Read also: What you need to know about assisted suicide in Switzerland

But there has been a boom in membership numbers. From 2010 to 2017, the organisation saw its membership grow from 52,000 to around 110,000.

And now a shortage of volunteers means new members are currently being told they will be placed on a waiting list before they can access the organization’s services.

Exit has 40 volunteers on its books, Swiss weekly SonntagsZeitung reported on Sunday.

However, the organization told the paper many of these volunteer workers are older and either take holidays at this time of year or are suffering from weather-related illnesses.

In a statement, Exit also noted that the work carried out by those volunteers was very labour-intensive and time-consuming. This meant volunteers were currently unable to deal with the needs of new members in the short term.

Exit told SonntagsZeitung that very few new members immediately required its services. People currently in this position were currently being directed towards alternatives like palliative care.

It also said it plans to train up more people, but only as of early next year.

Meanwhile, Exit has continued to run high-profile advertisements to boost membership despite occasional controversy.

In late 2017, Swiss public broadcaster SRF refused to run ads for the organization saying assisted suicide was politically and socially contentious and that the ads could “offend the sensitivities of some viewers”.

Exit is one of the two largest assisted suicide organizations in Switzerland. The other is Dignitas, which also provides the service to foreigners at a cost of between 7,500 francs and 10,000 francs depending on the services requested.

A total of 956 people used assisted suicide services in Switzerland in 2015, up from 187 in 2003. Exit said 734 people committed suicide using its services in 2017.



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