No prospects for the future, tired of life or suicidal? Anyone who wants to take matters of life and death into their own hands can get plenty of information on how to end it all from the Dutch Right to Die Association (NVVE). The association has made suicide tips available on a new website.
Spokesperson for the association Walburg de Jong says the website is meant to give people information so that they can end their lives in a “humane way without resorting to horrific methods like throwing themselves off a roof or in front of a train.”
But doesn’t that encourage people to commit suicide? Not according to Ms De Jong: “Firstly it is only for members, so people can only enter the site with a log-in code.” You only have access to the site if you are a member, which costs 17.50 euros per year.
On the site, the association gives detailed information on medicines which can be used for suicide. It also lists the countries where they are available and the brand names they are known by. The methods are also explained step-by-step. This is from the introduction:
There are two main methods for committing suicide using medicines.
In the first method, fast-working and long-lasting sleeping pills are used in combination with a plastic bag over the head, so that you die of suffocation.
In the second method, you take lethal medicine in combination with sleeping tablets and antiemetics, to prevent vomiting. Death is caused by cardiac arrest or apnoea. The information given here only concerns the second method and is based on reliable data, as far as we know.
There are around 1,500 suicides in the Netherlands every year, a large percentage are committed by people over the age of 60. Ms De Jong: “These are people who say ‘my life is over but I do not have a classifiable illness, so I am not eligible for euthanasia’. Or people who are sick, but whose doctor does not want to use euthanasia."
In the Netherlands both active euthanasia, when a doctor gives a lethal dose of medicine to end the life of a patient, and assisting suicide fall under criminal law. However, doctors who adhere to strict rules are not prosecuted. The doctor has to be convinced that the patient’s request to end his or her life is voluntary and well-considered. The patient has to be suffering intolerable pain with no prospect for improvement. But where many doctors think this refers to physical pain, the Dutch Right to Die Association regards mental suffering as an acceptable reason for euthanasia or suicide.
Help with suicide
Truus Hoyinck, member of the NVVE since 1991, says it is fine for the association to actively help people commit suicide. "I believe in self-determination. Years ago I ordered the Scottish book with suicide tips. I thought it was awful because it said you had to put a plastic bag over your head and wait until you suffocated. So if there is a better way, I’m all for it."
Suicide can also go wrong. Under the heading ‘Aftercare’ the suicide website says that should the attempt fail, the association’s support service “is always prepared to talk about the experience.”
Membership of the Dutch Right to Die Association is open to Dutch people and foreigners. A limited amount of information is available in English on the site, but the association says – in response to numerous requests from abroad – that it does not prescribe medicines and does not have doctors who offer euthanasia or other help.
Photo: Suicide - Flickr: Digiart2001/Jason.Kuffer.