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Irish resident died in assisted Swiss suicide

AN Irish resident travelled to Switzerland last year, to die by assisted suicide with the help of the Dignitas organisation.

Figures released by the group show that 202 people accomplished the ending of their lives in 2013, the highest number since its foundation in 1998.

The Irish resident brings to eight the number of people known to have travelled from Ireland to die since the organisation began offering assisted suicide.

The organisation accused politicians in countries where assisted suicide is not permitted as being "indifferent and careless".

"It does not matter whether six, five or seven patients from Ireland or any other country have travelled to Dignitas. Everyone who is forced to leave his home, his bed, his country in order to have access to a legal, self-determined, dignified and accompanied ending of suffering is one too many," said Silvan Luley of Dignitas.

"Every single one is a proof of the indifferent and careless approach of politicians and other authorities who deny access to this basic human right – and thus are directly responsible for causing a lot of suffering due to clandestine suicide attempts, of which the large majority fails – with all dire consequences," he added.

CHALLENGE

Mr Luley said Irish multiple sclerosis sufferer and right-to-die campaigner Marie Fleming, who died at her home in Co Wicklow, last month having brought an unsuccessful right-to-die challenge to the Supreme Court, was a "very brave woman".

"There should be more people like her who fight the legal path," he said. If politicians are too inhumane to move, then, sooner or later, the judges, if necessary the European Court of Human Rights, will decide over their head."

Assisted suicide is legal in only four European countries – Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

But only Switzerland allows non-residents with a terminal illness to travel there to end their lives.

Dignitas will only assist in a suicide if a person has a terminal illness; an unendurable incapacitating disability; unbearable and uncontrollable pain. They must also be of sound judgment and have a minimum level of physical mobility that will allow them to self-administer the drug used to end their life.

Dignitas have assisted nearly 1,700 suicides from 42 countries over the past 16 years, according to recently published figures.

Almost half of those were people from Germany, with 242 from the UK making up the second largest group. French and Swiss residents make up the next largest groups that avail of the services of Dignitas.

hnews@herald.ie


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