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A 2014 appraisal of self-directed dying
by Derek Humphry
This September, as part of the world euthanasia conference in Chicago, we shall be making a fresh appraisal of non-doctor ways in which a terminal or hopelessly ill person can choose to end their life.

This review will be by NuTech (New Technology in Self-Deliverance) in an all-day session of international experts and experienced guides. Crucially, the meeting will be looking for persons with new backgrounds and ideas on choice in dying. NuTech is an informal group started in 1997 by John Hofsess, Dr. Philip Nitschke and myself to find ways in which a competent adult could safely exit which were lawful and did not involve doctors. It has no finances or constitution. NuTech’s leaders today are Faye Girsh and myself.

Its first born was the helium hood technique for ending life using a party balloon kit, an oven plastic bag and vinyl tubing. The technique – often called ‘exit bags’ — became widely known in 2002 in the 3rd edition of Final Exit. It has since been used for self-deliverance by several hundred people, even in the Netherlands at times when legal physician-assisted suicide is not available. Absent lethal drugs, it is the system recommended by the Final Exit Network — successor to the Hemlock Society.

Since NuTech’s beginnings, the growth of the internet has been enormous, giving rise to huge sales of all types of drugs from international destinations, notably Mexico, Russia and China. Unfortunately, some sources which supply lethal drugs have involved fraud, dubious quality and rampant over-charging. The fraud is not confined to Nembutal and Seconal which are widely used in right to die cases -– hospitals worldwide are finding that many types of commonly-used drugs are counterfeit, low toxicity or even blank. Sometimes the label is counterfeit.

NuTech needs to nail down which sources are reliable for lethal barbiturates like Nembutal and Seconal and which not.

There is evidence that the idea of the helium hood way of dying is appealing to many people around the world as a form of non-violent euthanasia. It has its pros and cons. When the late Sharlotte Hydorn of GLADD was stopped in 2011 by the FBI from manufacturing the ready-made kits, in response I immediately wrote a guide pamphlet on how to make your own. (Sharlotte had barely been able to cope with demand.) ERGO has since sold 2,300 downloaded copies worldwide of the “How to make your own helium hood kit” DIY booklet on its internet bookstore. www.finalexit.org/ergo-store And we’ve distributed hundreds more in an addendum to the paperback Final Exit.

Beware, there is a great deal of rubbish on the internet about the helium hood method. This is by show-offs,
nut-cases and people who love pretending they are committing suicide — and then they have something to write on the internet. In hundreds of cases known to me the method has worked accurately and quickly, provided it is carefully carried out.
From this evidence, there is a big desire for an improved ready-made kit – but probably the FBI would again close any maker down . Even if the kits were coming from abroad, law enforcement might intercept them. Oregon in 2011 passed a law banning their sale.

Some people express a preference for a mask/hood/tent over using a plastic bag. NuTech has so far found that alternatives to the plastic bag (or turkey bag), such as surgical masks, either leaked or diluted the inert gas, causing failure. To be lethal, the helium inhaled must be pure. But fresh research might demonstrate new and infallible ways.

NuTech and other people who consider self-directed dying vital need now to capitalize on a decade of experience and produce fresh ideas.

If interested in this exploration, the NuTech meeting in Chicago is on Saturday, September 20, on the last day of the world right-to-die conference. To register for the whole conference, or just for NuTech Saturday, go to www.wfconf2014.com Contact me with ideas at ergo@finalexit.org
Wikipedia. The Suicide bag

New methods of self-deliverance under investigation. ERGO web page.

Suicide by Oxygen Deprivation with Helium: A Preliminary Study of British Columbia Coroner Investigations. Russel Ogden and Shereen Hassan
Death Studies Volume 35, Issue 4, 2011

Robbing Death of Its Sting, Chapter 6 of “In Search of Gentle Death” by Richard M Cote. (Corinthian Books and Kindle 2012) http://www.corinthianbooks.com

A Speedier Way: Inert Gases, Chapter 23 of “Final Exit,” 3rd edition, by Derek Humphry (Dell paperback and Kindle 2010)

Assisted suicide by oxygen deprivation with helium at a Swiss right-to-die organization
J Med Ethics 2010;36:174-179 doi:10.1136/jme.2009.032490
Law, ethics and medicine
Russel D Ogden, William K Hamilton, Charles Whitcher

New Technology, Chapter 18 of “Good Life, Good Death” by Derek Humphry (Norris Lane Press and Kindle 2009)
02/14 © Copyright Derek Humphry 2014

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