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‘Suicide Tourism’ is Booming. Maybe it’s Time We Talked About Assisted Dying?

‘Suicide Tourism’ is Booming. Maybe it’s Time We Talked About Assisted Dying?

Written by Oliver Micheals

With the tragic passing of Robin Williams, the issue of suicide has once again been thrust into conversations at bars, workplaces and dinner tables around the world.

What you won’t likely hear about are the people like Craig Ewert who went to great lengths to kill himself before succumbing to the agony of terminal illness, ALS in his case.

Ewert was the subject of a controversial Frontline documentary that chronicled his final days before the right to die activists at Digitas helped the Brit end his life in one of the few European countries where its allowed: Switzerland.

Dignitas clinic in Zurich is hardly the type of tourist destination you’d think to visit on a Swiss vacation. Those that do visit rarely need a ticket home – and that’s because death is the main attraction.

They call it “suicide tourism,” which is really just a nice way of saying “traveling to where it’s legal to be put out of your misery.”

It’s a booming travel trend that’s doubled in Switzerland since 2009, mostly drawing terminally ill Europeans looking to go out on their own terms where they can’t in their own home country.

You won’t see too many Americans in Switzerland’s suicide clinics, and that’s because it’s legal here if you trek to the right state.

Oddly enough, the Supreme Court doesn’t have your back on this one. Back in 1997, they ruled that Americans don’t have a constitutional right to die. That means the right for Americans to determine your fate when certain death looms varies from person to person.

Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico form a tiny minority in this country that permit physician assisted suicide (PAS). Even then, you’ve gotta be really terminally ill and of “sound mind” to qualify.

Let’s be real guys — that’s ridiculous. Why? Because we’ve handed over the reins on self-determination to medical “ethics” and the politics of religion, leaving citizens already bound for death to suffer out their remaining days.

We’ve gotta have the nerves to say that helping the terminally ill find relief is different from helping the depressed step off a ledge.

This post originally appeared on RYOT.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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12:42PM PDT on Sep 4, 2014

Hey, I'd be OK with all you wack job libs going somewhere to end your pitiful, intolerant, miserable existence.

There I called all you names gosh don't I feel better.

8:31AM PDT on Aug 31, 2014

A person with a long painful terminal illness that has been fought and lost with no hope of return medically should be granted the right to die. The problem is, who will be the judges to determine how long a person should suffer or how much medical interventions they should endure?

If your belief is that we live in an illusion, you have that right to believe. If we who believe life is the only reality until death, we should have that right to believe too.

4:31AM PDT on Aug 31, 2014


8:23PM PDT on Aug 30, 2014

Lots of comments...Hot topic! Thanks for the article. Hope my passing is a natural event in my sleep and not controversial.

6:27PM PDT on Aug 30, 2014

Agreed. Titles should not include the word "tourism" whether referring to "suicide" OR "sex" tours. Shld also be the word "assisted dying" (not suicide) OR "perversion" (not sex). (Remember "Westworld"? Maybe our current wars are actually "Action Holidays".) Plus, don't see how it is a "vacation" for the families & friends left behind after death OR the child forced into prostitution in Thailand. Question all headline fish hooks. And as Pema Chodron says, "Don't bite the hook." Good discussion, Care2.

2:23PM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

libre derecho a decidir

11:35AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Well said, Joseph B. Green star on it's way

The bottom line is that when all hope for a meaningful recovery has been exhausted, what is 'holy' or compassionate about prolonging the pointless suffering? What is the difference between allowing people to choose to refuse treatment that would prolong life and allowing them to request treatment that will end their suffering? They are both, technically, suicide, but I doubt that anyone advocating that we refuse the terminally ill a nice big dose of morphine would say that we should instead force them to take another round of chemo.

9:24AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Nikolas, I guess you don't understand that not ALL of us subscribe to your particular brand of ''spirituality."

Let me tell you something---the day you realize you're dying of what will ultimately be a painful and degrading disease you just MIGHT reconsider all that "dream called the universe" and start thinking about reality.

1:26AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

The most ridiculous thing is people do not realise all our life has been planned out by ourselves before we came into this dream called universe. We are here to wake up and see it for the dream it is.not plan on how to kill ourselves.

1:23AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Maybe if we spent some time to learn about who we are and why we are here in this illusion, then maybe we would not be talking this nonsense about killing ourselves and feeding the ego of the person who wrote this garbage.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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