Assisted suicide and euthanasia are two hotly debated issues both in the United States and worldwide, with many people traveling to different places to have it done.
Assisted Suicide is defined as merely providing the means for someone to commit suicide, while in euthanasia, a doctor or family member takes a more active role in carrying out the act.
In the United States, euthanasia is prohibited in 50 states under homicide laws. However assisted suicide, which is providing the means for someone to carry out the act, is legal in the US states of Oregon, Washington, and Montana.
Due to strict laws worldwide on euthanasia and assisted suicide, cases have begun to increase in countries with more liberal laws and now a new term called “death tourism,” has been created.
Assisted Suicide Cases Increasing Due to Death Tourism in Switzerland
The Swiss government has very liberal laws concerning assisted suicide, and many people worldwide have traveled to Switzerland in order to partake in what is now being called death tourism.
Assisted suicide cases in Switzerland totals 400 on a yearly basis, with 132 of the cases occurring with patients who travel there specifically in order to engage in death tourism.
Assisted suicide cases in Switzerland have been ongoing since the 1940s, and are allowed as long as its not carried out by a physician and is done by someone who doesn’t have some vested interested in the assisted suicide case.
One of the most famous clinics is Dignitas, which was founded in 1998. Patients travel to Zurich and stay a one of the clinic’s flats. 30 minutes before the assisted suicide, they are given an anti-sickness drug. Later, they are given a lethal dose of barbiturate.
A camera is set up to record the assisted suicide cases, to show that the patients do it themselves. This has caused controversy worldwide, making Switzerland known worldwide for its death tourism.
Britain Can Possibly Become an Assisted Suicide Capital of the World
Laws passed in 2009 can possibly increase assisted suicide cases in Britain and further globalize death tourism.
The new laws allow doctors to assist in suicide, and allow families to help their ill family members without being prosecuted. However, this might actually increase death tourism in Britain because assisted suicide cases will be allowed in an English speaking country.
According Dr. Philip Nitschke, an Australian advocate of euthanasia, many of his patients didn’t go to the Dignitas clinic because they didn’t want to travel there since they found it to be an alien country.
Controversy Behind Death Tourism
Many controversial cases involving assisted suicide within Switzerland and Britain have already surfaced, and it remains to be seen how long these two countries will continue to allow their practices.
At the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland, a 23-year old Brit named Daniel James, was paralyzed after a rugby accident. Afterwards, he traveled to the clinic in order to kill himself. Cases like this question whether every incident of suicide is actually necessary.
In October 2009, a man from Batley, West Yorks, helped assist his wife’s suicide, and recorded it on tape. She had been suffering for over 40 years from debilitating pain and was living with an untreated fractured hip after falling out of a chair that was designed to help her. Afterwards, the seat fell on top of her and she screamed in pain.
He provided a bag for her and gas to assist in the suicide. He eventually avoided prosecution, and had the videotape to prove it wasn’t murder.
Death tourism in Switzerland and Britain inevitably affect the rest of the world, because people are traveling there to die, with what some people might deem as inappropriate reasons for killing themselves.
The rest of the world has a vested interest in seeing what happens in these two countries because it might be only a matter of time before other western countries adapt similar laws and practices concerning assisted suicide.
Assisted Suicide Cases and Death Tourism: Man Video Tapes Wife
Assisted Suicide Cases and Death Tourism: Zurich Clinic
Assisted Suicide Cases and Death Tourism: Britain, Suicide Capital?
Assisted Suicide Cases and Death Tourism: Controversy in Switzerland
Assisted Suicide Cases and Death Tourism: Worldwide Stats