Checking out

March 9, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More

Sometimes, after a stressful period digging through work, family, and community obligations, I find myself driving past a cemetery and telling myself a private joke. “Lucky bastards,” I utter in a serious voice. “They get to to have endless amounts of deep sleep.” I’m trying to be ironic at those moments (though I always do enjoy my own jokes!).

There is a serious point to this. Many people have had enough, and they do want to end their lives. It turns out that they do have some options other than an often gristly self-inflicted suicide, the type of death that leaves behind families that are horrified, angry and/or guilt-ridden.

Photo by Erich Vieth

Photo by Erich Vieth

Since 2002, Holland has allowed euthanasia to those afflicted with ‘hopeless and unbearable suffering’ certified by two doctors. But now, after 112,500 signatures were collected on the issue, Holland’s legislature is considering pushing the envelope even further. According to World News, the Dutch legislature is considering a measure that provides for this:

Assisted suicide for anyone over 70 who has simply had enough of life is being considered in Holland. Non-doctors would be trained to administer a lethal potion to elderly people who ‘consider their lives complete’.  The radical move would be a world first and push the boundaries even further in the country that first legalised euthanasia. Supporters say it would offer a dignified way to die for those over 70 who just want to give up living, without having to resort to difficult or unreliable solitary suicide methods.

Sweet death must be in the air these days. I just finished reading a fascinating article in The Atlantic titled, “Death Becomes Him,” a close look at Switzerland-based Dignitas, the only organization in the wold “that will expedite the death of almost anyone who asks.” The man in charge, Ludwig Minelli, explains that suicide is “the last human right.” The author of the article, Bruce Falconer, writes that Minelli “has dedicated his life to securing [the right to suicide].” This is a well-written history of the right-to-die movement. It is also a personal look at several people who are quite comfortable with death, so much so, that they have traveled long distances to Dignitas in order to end their lives for a fee of $10,000.

How busy has Minelli been with his euthanasia business?

Over the past decade, Ludwig Minelli has helped more than 1,000 people kill themselves and has turned Zurich into the undisputed world capital of assisted suicide.

Note:  I previously posted on a husband/wife suicide assisted by Dignitas.

Here something that I keep wondering about. Given the collapse of the economy and the health care crisis, I wonder whether cognitive dissonance is going to kick in and that euthanasia is going to become trendy, even here in the United States. I’m afraid that over the next decade or two, things are going to get more interesting than any of us can imagine.


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Category: Meaning of Life, Quality of Life

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:


    You must realize that the reason cemetaries have walls or fences around them is the fact that so many people are dying to get in.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    I've had peers who have died from violence, from disease, from accidental overdose, and from suicide (arguably mental disease).

    There are some fuzzy lines, though. One friend opted out when she could no longer get out of bed by herself because of advanced Huntington's disease in her 30's. I know another who surreptitiously stockpiled morphine to finally end the pain of melanoma.

    My parents belonged to the Hemlock Society (now called Compassion & Choices), but never had to use it. My father died of a bicycle accident at 78, and my mother of cigarettes (emphysema) at 83.

    I'm certainly in no hurry to join them, but would like to have the legal option to end it if life became unbearable with no hope of improvement.

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