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I have detected a good deal of misunderstanding of how the Swiss
organizations handle assisted suicide. How are the drugs administered
and why does it cost $10,000? So I asked Dr Michael Irwin,
a retired UK doctor who has considerable experience in Switzerland,
to explain the procedures and methods. Dr Irwin writes:

The two large Swiss organizations (EXIT Deutsche Schweiz, based in
Zurich, and EXIT Suisse Romande, in Geneva) have helped suffering Swiss
nationals with assisted suicides, requiring the swallowing of liquid
nembutal (pentobarbital), for several decades.

Then, in the 1998, the possibility of this Swiss option became available
for non-Swiss nationals with the establishment of Dignitas, in Zurich.
This was followed by the formation of EX International, in Berne, about
twelve years ago, and, more recently, the emergence of Lifecircle (also
known as Eternal Spirit) in Basle. Within the last few months, a fourth
group has been formed in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.

All use liquid nembutal, in dosages which are about double what is
normally lethal, With the exception of Lifecircle, this is swallowed –
which, for some people, can perhaps be difficult because it has a bitter
taste. However, I have witnessed this happening on four different
occasions since 2005 (three times at Dignitas, and once at EX
International) and this did not seem to be too unpleasant for the
individuals who died – perhaps because all four were so relaxed and so
determined to die? This way, someone is fully unconscious in a few
minutes, and dead within fifteen to thirty minutes.

However, at Lifecircle, a physician inserts an intravenous drip (usually
into a vein in an individual’s arm) which, initially, only allows a
saline solution to flow into the body. Then, whenever this individual
wishes to die, he or she activates a device, attached to this IV drip,
which adds nembutal to the saline solution. I saw this happen on
February 29th, when I was in Basle with John Hofsess at Lifecircle – he
was unconscious within a minute, and dead about three minutes later.

Regarding the necessary costs – of this Swiss option – for non-Swiss
nationals, there are slight variations between the different
organizations. But, approximately, one-third of the quoted $10,000 goes
on preliminary expenses (especially for the review of medical reports,
by a local Swiss physician, which must be submitted before someone
travels to Switzerland; and, then, on two interviews with

that physician
after one arrives in Switzerland); one-third is for the actual suicide
(for the maintenance of the facility where the suicide occurs, for the
staff involved, and for the nembutal); and the final third is for the

Personally, I joined Dignitas in 2003, EX International in 2007, and
Lifecircle four years ago. Belonging to all three is both a treble
“insurance policy” for myself as well as an opportunity for me to
support their wonderful humanitarian services – although I have been
told that, even being a member of two of these three organizations is
like a man who has both a belt and braces/suspenders to hold up his
— Michael Irwin, MD, Surrey, England. 03.04.2016

One Response to “How and how much for assisted suicide in Switzerland”

  1. […] in Switzerland to do so. This approach, possible for those with the knowledge, will, and means (it costs $10,000), circumvents the legal […]

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