Euthanasia triggers development of suicidal tourism in Switzerland

Euthanasia is considered to be one of the most complex issues nowadays. Is it well-intentioned help to someone who suffers and wishes to die or a murder of a human being? While some people whose relatives are at death’s door would sacrifice everything to ease and stop their poignant death agony, the Orthodox community holds debates about the sinfulness of suicides and illness as a punishment. Meanwhile, people suffering from incurable diseases from different countries, whose relatives did not give them “help”, come to Switzerland to meet “easy” death at the hands of professionals in accordance with the law.

Switzerland is one of the few European countries where euthanasia is legalized.

A person, who knows about his or her hopeless situation and is unable to endure terrible pain, has a right to stop the torment. Such suicide has been legalized in Switzerland since 1942. There are only three required conditions: a documented proof of the existing disease, relatives’ disinterest in the death of a person and a signed contract, confirming that the decision to leave this world is voluntary and invariable.

Formerly only hospitals had the right to commit euthanasia. Nowadays, apart from them, there are four specialized companies working in this industry.

They provide all necessary services for certain pay (usually not more than €5,000). People from other countries, not only Swiss-based, can deal with these companies.

These companies support the development of the suicidal tourism in Switzerland. It differs from all other types of conventional tourism. Such tourists are not sightseers. They can spare money on a return ticket: they simply would never need it.

Belgians, Dutch and especially Germans tend to make more and more of such death tours to the country of downhill skiing and expensive watches. Employees of the company Dignitas are always glad to invite them and promise the deliverance from all torments. They have been offering these services for nine years already. The company was founded in 1998 by Ludwig Minnelli, a lawyer and human rights activist. For first four years it relieved 109 patients of their unbearable pain, and more than 500 clients from different countries during the following five years.

The Germans make the majority of Dignitas customers. In 2006 out of 196 clients 120 were from Germany, the country where the government does not acknowledge the right of patients to pass away on their own free will.

At first the procedures took place in a rented apartment in Zurich. A live individual would enter the lodging, and assistants would carry his or her dead body out a while later.

The process itself took no longer than half an hour. A slight injection caused up to minutes of sleep, a coma and then the painless death that the clients were dreaming of in their nightmares.

In several years the organization had to move out of the apartment. It was quite predictable: neighbors did not like the idea that someone was dying next door at their lunch time.

“The headquarters were transferred to a nearby dormitory, but it did not impress other people living there either. Dignitas had to move from one hotel to another. But it did not turn out well. The owner of one Swiss hotel announced his intention to sue them. However, all these scandals mean nothing in comparison with the latest incident. In early November two Germans aged 65 and 50 committed suicide with the help of Dignitas employees at the parking bay near Maura-am-Greifensee, suburb of Zurich.

In any case, all clients come to Switzerland with the only purpose: to leave unbearable pain behind for about €5,000.

“The phenomenon of euthanasia becomes possible when the meaning of life is pleasure, enjoyment,”- said deacon Michael Pershin, a priest of the Moscow Patriarchy said.

Unlike those who attack organizations like Dignitas and the countries where euthanasia is legalized, patients do not think, if their “healers” want to make a market of their death or if they make a good profit from it. Quite on the contrary, those dying in throes only hope for relief, once and for good.

Translated by Ksenia Sedyakina

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov