The right to change your mind

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 02.25.46

State Sen. Mark Leno, co-author of the End of Life Option bill (right), receives support from Debbie Ziegler, whose daughter, Brittany Maynard moved from the East Bay to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s Death With Dignity law. Photo: Max Whittaker

As another American state gets to grips with fielding right-to-die legislation, Joe Mathews, a Californian editor, puts forward some interesting ideas. The new legislation would allow mentally competent California residents with six months or less to live to obtain a prescription for lethal drugs they can give themselves.

But Matthews says that the most important right to protect at life’s end is not the right to die but rather the right to change your mind. He attacks the strident tone of people on both sides of the debate. You cannot demand a “right” to have something that will happen anyway. It recalls the almost equally absurd Monty Python demand in Life of Brian for a man to have the right to have babies (even if he doesn’t have a womb).

So what is this “right to die” all about? Put in a more precise way, it is the right to choose the time and manner of your own death. Nothing more, nothing less. The right of someone else not to be prosecuted if they decide to help you is a totally different right altogether. A law against assisted suicide doesn’t interfere with your rights, even if you are incapable of exercising them. It is a legal structure which can be argued as right or wrong and legislated largely according to how the particular ruling body feels about it.

In most of our waking moments, we simply wish to live. Most of us go through a superficial phase at one time or another where we imagine death. Maybe we even come to terms with the reality of our own mortality and welcome it: which is not the same as choosing it. One day, if our situation is such, perhaps through extreme old age, or unbearable and unrelievable suffering, unpersuaded by the best attempts of palliative care, one might simply change one’s mind. Instead of being a passive victim, waiting for the last trace of life to disappear, one simply decides to make the inevitable an act of will. Sadly California’s bill, like most of the American limited provisions for assisted suicide, makes no provision for the large number of people who seek assisted suicide, minority though they might be. People with motor neurone disease, or other long-term wasting diseases: for them, choice is limited indeed.

For Exit’s template on assisted suicide see here.

reference: How my grandma could solve the ‘end of life’ debate by Joe Mathews

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The Exit Path 2015: The most complete reference published, out now. Fully updated on nitrogen.

Five Last Acts The Exit Path 2015 front coverFive Last Acts: The Exit Path 2015 edition.
§ 822 pages.
§ over 100 illustrations and ‘how-to‘ diagrams.
§ Over 1000 references. § tables & charts .
§ Tips and checklists  § scientific evidence.

  • Over 100 pages on helium, completely up to date, with information on companies whose policies on “balloon gas helium” have changed and those that haven’t. alternative sources.
  • 23 pages devoted to nitrogen and options for obtaining and connecting up the “new” inert gas.
  • Updates chapter on compression (64pp.) with new cases and methods.
  • More than 135 pages on drugs used in self-euthanasia and obtaining them legally.
  • Expanded section with scientific data on ‘fringe’ or ‘borderline’ methods, including refusing food and drink, hydrogen sulphide, charcoal burners, drowning, hypothermia, firearms.
  • Social aspects of self-euthanasia, legalities in depth, consideration of others.
  • Preparing the mind for the moment of death (‘natural’ or otherwise), results of peer-reviewed studies.
  • Self-test: hidden dangers of future scenarios.
  • Self-euthanasia and dementia.
  • And much, much more. Information is explained in lay terms and alternatively in more technical terms. Other books say something else? Check our information and data sources, all contained in the book. Many ‘experts’ change their opinions after reading our in-depth analyses. A mammoth volume covering every aspect.
  • Authored by a full-time researcher with over 30 years experience and one of the world’s few professionals in the field working full-time studying self-deliverance, trained in analysis, with a postgraduate Masters Degree in Law & Ethics in Medicine, the Director of Exit, and experience of running hands-on workshops for ten years.
  • A book you can trust. Click here for reviews and testimonials on Amazon from the previous edition. Click the illustration above to purchase now.
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Keeping in touch

NL Contents Spring 2015 (1)

{click to enlarge)

The Exit Newsletter, a quality magazine that goes to our worldwide membership, is off the press again at last! Our sense of responsibility means that Exit does not publish “how-to” instructions on the Internet although we do cover the subject with important news and analysis within the law, right here on the Blog.

Print materials are a different category. Attention span on printed materials is greater. It is easier to ensure that they only go to an intended audience (not to minors) and also kept for reference and reading leisure even without an internet connection.

Each issue of Exit Newsletter includes a broad spectrum of articles, both academic and light reading, but always with a focus on good life & good death. They include light philosophy, medical and legal articles, books and film reviews, but also, essentially, the latest scientific knowledge on self-deliverance. Exit’s reputation for thoroughness, established back in 1980, aims at empowering mature and responsible adults so they are in control (as far as is humanly possible) of their own destiny, as well as furthering research in the area.spring 2015ev 35(1) PAGE 01 (1)

Joining Exit is not something that can be undertaken rashly or impulsively – as every application is subject to a 12-week waiting period. (We are not an emergency service!) Even then, we never give one-to-one advice on self-deliverance. We work within the law and a strict code of ethics. But for members, we try to be a lifeline: not to opinion, however exalted, but to solid information and explicit updates that supplement the Five Last Acts series (always supported by actual case studies and scientific literature.)

The job has never been easy. This edition arrives rather late as our printers company decided to close shop and move to Spain! It is also on a new glossy white paper instead of the familiar black on yellow as suggested in the pictures, but this may be changed back again (black on yellow is supposedly the easiest to read). To all our print members, we apologise for the recent delays. To any potential members, you might like to browse the front page and contents of the current issue (click to enlarge). If you think you might wish to join Exit, there is a link here (then scroll down the left to find a link for an application form).

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New print publications available on Amazon

FLAII 2015ev cover Self-euthanasia Methods & Dialogues (Chicago) coverFLA-TEP cover promo version

To keep pace with the changes in availability of helium, additional sections have been added to the books Five Last Acts II and Five Last Acts – The Exit Path. At over 400 pages, the first of these is one of the standard works on self-euthanasia (rational suicide for the terminally ill). The Exit Path is the extra large reference version, with hundreds more pages of explanations, comparisons, diagrams and notes. Both are considered authoritative works and used by many organisations, researchers and individuals seeking empowerment over their life and timing the manner of their own dying. After many requests, Exit’s notes from the Chicago NuTech Conference on self-deliverance have also been made available in print as Self-euthanasia Methods & Dialogues (a small booklet mostly of interest to people familiar with the main books.)

The additions to the new version of Five Last Acts II are primarily the extra pages examining nitrogen (pros and cons, in what ways nitrogen differs from helium, purchasing, and debunking myths, and relevant supporting citations from the journals). If you have the existing edition and understand the facts on helium and nitrogen, and have read our previous blog post warning about a certain helium manufacturer, you probably don’t need the new version. New readers can find the new edition on Amazon, or in bookshops given the time taken for ordering. The new version of Five Last Acts – The Exit Path, being a much larger reference volume (with 70 more pages, 822 in total), contains small updates to some chapters, extensive and detailed material on helium and especially nitrogen, expanded sections on other methods, and a section on self-deliverance and dementia. A colossal work that covers practically imaginable question.

Look out for the new books!
(Amazon links to all three books will appear on this page as they become available)

  • Five Last Acts II (2015 edition) Amazon U.S. / U.K.
  • Five Last Acts – The Exit Path (2nd edition, 2015) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.*
  • Self-euthanasia Methods & Dialogues (Conference Notes) Amazon U.S. / U.K.

Note that the older, existing editions may be available on Amazon at a slightly reduced price for a short while. We remind readers that we comply with the law in all respects and ‘how-to’ information on rational suicide is not provided on this website. For Exit’s comments on self-euthanasia literature in the British Medical Journal, see here. This was in response to an article by Colin Brewer, the originator of the idea of self-euthanasia manuals. Brewer’s latest best-selling work, “I’ll See Myself Out Thank You” is also available on Amazon and reviewed in the coming edition of Exit Newsletter.

Free downloads from ExitEuthanasia Blog:

  • When it All Comes to an End A free essay by Exit on ways to look death in the face. Psychological routines that have been proven in clinical practice. These are for anyone, whether facing ‘natural’ death or self-euthanasia, or lawful assisted suicide.
  • Exit’s 7-step Model Scenario for Living Wills The effectiveness of a living will (advance medical directive) varies with the amount of accuracy from the patient. We show you how to steer a middle road according to your circumstances.
  • Living Wills A simple poster that you can download and print, suitable for a doctors’ surgery.
    Extended Values History Form A useful form which recognizes that medical decisions which we make for ourselves are based on those beliefs, preferences and values that matter to us most. (Exit writing in the British Medical Journal on Values Histories can be found here, and on the legally binding nature of living wills, here.)

Note: a living will is best when tailored to your own country, state, and circumstances. It should preferably stand out, on strong paper. For these reasons we do not provide a standard download form. Please ask your nearest society, doctor or hospital. (Exit members are provided with a pack containing a choice of documents on joining.) You can also make your own living will (a very basic outline can be seen here); however it is best designed with expert help and also discussed with your doctor.

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Lighter than (only some) air . . .

helium nanoblimp

A balloon filled with pure helium is sufficient to lift a very tiny camera. The new diluted helium will be less effective.

The helium debate has reignited. One major manufacturer has announced that all their “balloon helium” will now be supplied as an 80/20 helium-air mixture. As helium has been a principal method of choice in rational self-euthanasia for several years, this will distress many people. Great peace of mind results from knowing that one can eventually, near the end of one’s life, choose the exact time and manner of one’s departure. More and more people want to have control over their last moments. Simply knowing when enough is enough, and that after a wonderful life the final curtain should occur with dignity and a sense of decorum, is a great reassurance.

[readers please note: this article does NOT give instructions on how to commit suicide]

Changes of policy by balloon gas suppliers will not affect persons who have already purchased (older) tanks. Neither should it unduly worry Exit members, who have assimilated material from our books and workshops empowering them with several different methods for handling an unknown future. As fast as intelligent, responsible individuals make provisions for their own self-determination: in life, and at the end of life, so will unexpected circumstances, unexpected mental and physical deterioration, or  changes in governmental and company policies attempt to rob them of that very right to self-determination.

We have noted previously, mostly in reports from other countries, especially India (or in isolated cases in the U.S.A.), unscrupulous retailers tampering with, or refilling canisters to be sold as “balloon helium gas” while cutting corners. (It saves them money, for one thing.) Now, that process has been formalised. It has been given a respectable stamp by Balloon Time, one of the world’s leading suppliers of domestic market helium canisters. Whether they do so out of greed, or to save the planet, or to appease lobbyists, makes little difference. Eighty per cent helium is enough to float a balloon: though not as well as one filled with 100 per cent helium.  Clearly commercial helium users, such as those that mount big public displays, are likely prefer helium that is helium, rather than a diluted substitute.

Helium has a lifting capacity of about .84 ounces per cubic foot. A half-helium 12-inch balloon can lift about .22 ounces. Since a 12-inch balloon weighs less than this amount, a half-helium balloon will still float, though not as well as a completely filled one, and it will deflate faster.

Balloon Time, a major supplier, has issued a statement to say that in the future all of their “balloon gas” will be diluted with 20 per cent air. “Our helium is rated from 98-99.99 percent pure. However, due to global helium supply issues, we are now mixing helium with air. All tanks will have 80 percent or more helium. This allows us to deliver a quality product at an affordable price.” It is not known yet whether companies like BOC, another major gas suppliers, will follow suit. BOC have recently introduced a new style of disposable helium canister. A 2003 BOC safety sheet from the KentGas website lists the contents of their balloon gas as ‘helium and air’ although this is probably to distinguish the contents from medical grade helium (rather than suggest dilution). Certainly many people have successfully used helium, painlessly and peacefully, since 2003! Also, on another gas supplier’s website, we noted that the data sheet lists contents as “100 per cent helium,” adding that “concentration is nominal.” Balloon Time however supplies many UK and USA companies, including the Tesco chain of supermarkets.

Self-euthanasia with a ‘helium hood’ is based on a principle of displacing air with inert gas (developed in the first instance probably by Brian Dunn in our 1994 collaboration, Beyond Final Exit, on at least one occasion by Dr. Kevorkian, on one or two occasions by Dignitas and Switzerland, and then Derek Humphry and most right-to-die groups as a ‘best method.’). Both scientifically, and by numerous carefully-controlled eye-witness accounts, death by pure helium is peaceful. More peaceful than many ways that some persons may now even resort to as the “helium method” appears to lose some of its standing. Yet almost any inert gas will do: there is very little difference. Nitrogen, a popular alternative, produces exactly the same effect. These gases are inert: they have no chemical reaction with the body. At most there could be a minute biological reaction: but the cause of death in all cases is simple and sudden lack of oxygen to the brain.

Exit members are clear thinking individuals that look to the future. They mostly develop contingency plans  years ahead. They investigate, keep up with information we provide, in books and workshops, and make adequate provision for themselves in a careful, sensible way. They do not expect instructions given out on the Internet to the unwary and neither do we provide such. Dying is a serious business and worth investigating. That some gas companies want to make it harder will hardly deter intelligent people from giving it the calm foresight and attention that it requires. In that knowledge, one can relax and enjoy life more fully. The key to the “door marked Exit” is always always there – and in a safe place for the day it might be needed (if and when that day should come).

Neurochemical data on inert gas narcosis (UHM 2011)
Neurochemical basis of inert gas narcosis (UHM 2006)
Inert gas narcosis (PostGrad Med J 1966)
Biological effects of inert gases (Physiol Res 2007)
Example of a helium purity analysis machine (Analox)
Video of a person testing nitrogen purity (Youtube video)
Suicide By Asphyxiation Due to Helium Inhalation (Am J Forensic Med Pathol 2010)
Asphyxial Suicide with Helium and a Plastic Bag (Am J Forensic Med Pathol 2002)
The new Balloon Time FAQ
BOC safety data sheet
A Patients Rights page with facts about helium (U.S.A.)
Physics of helium lift  (p.14).
What Happens If You Put Half Air & Half Helium in a Balloon?

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A special treat for readers of ExitEuthanasia Blog

20150322_221231Free! (Or at least as free as we can make them.)

The peace of mind obtained from years and years of research, peer-reviewed and supported with the best medical experts and medical journals worldwide, carefully presented in the most comprehensive manuals on the subject. You cannot put a price on that. But although the research and publication of a 750-page book costs a lot of money, we realise that there are individuals who rationally need it but are unable to afford even the cover price.

Although our organisation runs on a shoe-string and is painfully short of funds, it is a vocation enterprise to reduce suffering at the end of life, and the fear of suffering. We can’t make books with fresh air, but for a few days we are making them available at a massively subsidised rate, less than half the normal cost price, through the Amazon store.

Since most people do not check the price of a book on a daily basis, by letting our Blog Subscribers know, we are effectively making the offer to you and your colleagues and loved ones. For details of the difference between the two books please see the “Publications” tab at the top of this page (Five Last Acts II, the purple cover, is more compact; Five Last Acts – The Exit Path is nearly twice the size with much more details).

The massively reduced list prices prices are available NOW on Amazon US; they should appear on other Amazon sites in the next day or two. (For instance, Five Last Acts – The Exit  Path usually retails at just under US$50. Just now it is about $22.50. Amazon and other retailers usually sell Five Last Acts II for between $35 and $40 but the current price is about $15. This is a one-off offer to get some very solid library books on self-deliverance methods. It is only on for a few days.

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To sleep perchance to dream? and dream and dream?

internet scammer warning pictureDesperate for euthanasia? Losing your money to internet scammers is not the answer.

Websites abound taking advantage of people’s desperation. One person recently lost $800 after being promised Nembutal online (Nembutal is a brand name for pentobarbitone/pentobarbital, a barbiturate sometimes used for euthanasia).

Occasionally people do obtain genuine Nembutal, usually illegally through a Mexican pet store by saying it is to put a large animal to sleep (We don’t recommend even this method: some people have been arrested travelling through customs.)

None of the genuine right-to-die organisations sell Nembutal directly. Sometimes we see sites offering early Exit books such as Departing Drugs or Beyond Final Exit as a lure. These old books are not only 20 years old, they are out of print!

The four principal books on self-euthanasia are Five Last Acts II, Five Last Acts – the Exit Path, The Peaceful Pill, and Final Exit. They are all available on Amazon (the first two are by Exit, the second two by other organisations). They all recommend the use of helium as a main choice, and various other methods as a back-up. None of them sell Nembutal.

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Assisted (costs of) suicide

Dr Preisig: "May I help you?"

Dr Preisig of LifeCircle: “May I help you?”

Most people agree that every person has the right to seek happiness in their own way, and to live life, even choosing the time and manner of death, in the way that they would wish.

In Switzerland, any citizen can make a reasonable request of any of several organisations, and any number of doctors will be willing to prescribe sufficient medicines to enable a person to die peacefully. The process is fairly open and regulated, but not officiously so. Safeguards are in place and reasonable attempts are made to dissuade a person and consider the request in light of their medical records, also considering if the person has made reasonable use of appropriate palliative care services. The costs involved are negligible.

Not so for Brits, who make up one of the largest contingents of foreigners visiting Switzerland for assisted suicide. For anyone who can fulfil the necessary requirements, the same checks are in place and if (in the very rare case) anything goes ‘wrong’ then the person can be taken to hospital to die. There is one or two extra factors to dissuade persons from the final step however, and that is that the process for foreigners is usually inordinately expensive. The standard procedure requires not only that you come up with considerable paperwork, medical records, and possibly a psychiatric assessment. Firstly you need to break the law. Not in a big way, and not in a way that doesn’t routinely go unprosecuted, but commit, or rather persuade someone else to commit, an illegal act: the simple process of having someone accompany you to Switzerland. By doing that, that person has contravened the Suicide Act as is theoretically liable to a lengthy prison term.

The pronouncements of the last Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) made it reasonably clear that when the ‘chaperone’ was well-motivated, had not persuaded the person to commit suicide, and wasn’t doing so for selfish motives, that after all things had been considered a prosecution would be unlikely. (In practice, a person may still be liable to arrest and traumatic police interrogation before “all things have been considered” sufficiently to hand it over to the DPP, and then wait a limbo of a year or more before finding out if a prosecution will proceed.)

But there is an even bigger barrier: MONEY. It turns out that it is rather costly to process a foreigner through the stages of assisted dying. Estimates for Dignitas,(1-3) the main organisation that accepts foreign applicants, vary from £5000 to 10,000. It took this blog a little digging to discover the costs using another organisation, LifeCircle,(4-6) but it would appear that costs are about the same.(7) (Both organisations say they will waive costs in exceptional circumstances.)

Is there any reason why such a simple human act should be so prohibitively expensive? One of the arguments for legalising assisted suicide in the U.K. is that access to such facilities should not be a question of wealth. Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill is currently being examined by parliament, and yet at the latest reading we discover how enormous costs could easily creep in.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: “On the first day in Committee your Lordships decided overwhelmingly that a person may only obtain an order subject to the consent of the High Court, Family Division. You do not need to be a lawyer … to know that applications to the High Court of any sort are apt to be expensive. … A city lawyer charging £500 or £700 an hour is rather different from a country lawyer charging £100 or £200. It will also depend, as I said, on the complexity, but one is talking of thousands, not hundreds, of pounds.”(9-10)

One could, of course, always try to get legal aid (11) . . .

Notes
1. Dignitas (homepage)
2. Dignitas (brochure)
3. Exit’s quick guide to Dignitas
4. LifeCircle (homepage)
5. LifeCircle (introduction)
6. LifeCircle (brochure)
7. Two elderly Scots die with help from LifeCircle (cost £15,000)
8. Canadian review of LifeCircle
9. Read the full discussion of: House of Lords 16 January 2015
10 Exit considers the Falconer bill
11. MoJ refuses to release information on legal aid cuts (Politics.co.uk)

(further links: please scroll down using the right-hand column)

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Living wills again

livingwillExit’s main work is associated with research into self-deliverance (“self-euthanasia” or “rational suicide” as it is also referred to). Yet along the way, living wills have also been a major area of research. We published the first volume of Collected Living Wills (no longer in print) and took research to the Law Commission and the Ethics Department of the BMA, successfully encouraging the inclusion of “values” clauses in the legislation which ensued. Our work arose over concern whether living wills were used enough and, even if they were, whether they were effective.

We were fortunate in being able to use the resources of Glasgow University’s library for our research, for independent researchers are not always so lucky. Academic publishing is largely controlled by major corporations around the world, who effectively harvest enormous sums for access to cutting edge material. Individual authors see very little, or even nothing, in recompense for an article that may have taken months or years to produce and for which the public are charged on average about £30 just to view. Academic books strain the finances even of the students that need them for their studies.

The real problem with this is that it holds back knowledge. Although we now have legislation to increase compliance with living wills, the theory and practice of making them as effective as possible is often poorly understood. Exit’s work was published in an academic book currently listed at retail for almost £240. Although the work is widely quoted by academics it is virtually unobtainable at a reasonable price by the public unless you come across a second-hand copy.

The research is quite old now, but still valid in understanding the nature of living wills, pitfalls to avoid and useful features to keep. Bear in mind that it was written in 1996 in a format that is difficult to transcribe for the web, but we are doing our best to bring it to you free of charge on Scribd (follow the link below). This version was taken from a draft and is imperfectly formatted (English law cases, for instance, have round instead of square brackets) but the essence should be useful for anyone seeking a more technical understanding of the living will process.

Living Wills / Advance Directives on Scribd (free).
Contemporary Issues in Law, Medicine & Ethics (the book from which it is a chapter, on Amazon).
Contemporary Issues in Law, Medicine and Ethics (search inside the book using Google)

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The choice to face your choices

five-questionsWhat does choice mean when you visit a website such as this?

Often we talk about choice as if it is something that is a right, something we believe in, or something we want to have. It rather implies that we have already decided about what. “It is my choice to die with dignity, at a time of my choosing.”

These things are easy to say, but I wonder, are they sometimes a bit like believing in world peace. You can “choose” to go on a world cruise but, if your ticket is just to cross the river, then your “choice” not only doesn’t mean much, it isn’t a choice at all.

Choosing is about choosing from available options. In most situations, we can increase the range of those options through effort. Our choices, of course, relate to the life in question, our own: not some abstract world where if, like a child, we holler loud enough it will be done.

Many people put off expanding the range of options until it is too late to do very much at all. “I’m going to diet one day soon,” or “I really ought to join the gym and exercise,” or “I believe in death with dignity and one day I am probably going to find out how to do it.” Just like that.

In other words, we put off choosing anything because we think there will always be another day. Somehow our riverboat ticket can be upgraded to a cruise in the Mediterranean. We’ll undo years of strain on our heart by suddenly eating salads and buying a running machine. Or when death comes knocking well, I guess I could buy a book or jump on a flight to Switzerland. Then, when we realise that it doesn’t work like that, we realise that our choices are actually rather limited.

Our goal at Exit is not to get you to vote for a politician that supports our aims. It’s not to ask you for a subscription or to sell thousands of books. Our aim, quite simply, is to take away the fear of death. We want to do that by inspiring you to think about it. Gently, sensibly, but to face life (death included!!) in real terms, not as a “one day I will…” .

It is not the duty of this blog even to tell you whether you should support dignity in dying or whether you are part of a minority with the opposite belief. But you’ve read this far: stop for a minute! Try these questions*:

  1. What is your understanding of your current health or condition?

  2. If your current condition worsens, what are your goals?

  3. What are your fears?

  4. Are there any trade-offs that you are willing to make? Or not?

  5. What would a good day be like?

By thinking deeply about these questions you can begin to approach real choices by addressing your real situation. Whether you are for or against euthanasia, think for a moment if you will about your health, what your death might be like, what you would like it to be like, what you would, or might, need to do in order to have the sort of choices you desire. If you wish, there is a video to help you here.

The original author of those questions, Dr Atul Gawande, rather sits on the fence on the question of euthanasia; but the questions are equally valid whatever your answers might be. You can consider what life might be like in the period before the inevitable. Learn about it if need be (if you need information, there’s an excellent book on the most common ways that death occurs by Dr Sherwin Nuland called How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter). If you are opposed to euthanasia, you might wish to investigate the realities of palliative care realistically, to understand best and worst case scenarios. If assisted suicide in Switzerland comes to your mind, it could be worth checking the Dignitas website (or the relevant articles on this Blog) to see what is involved. If self-euthanasia is maybe a back-up plan at the back of your mind, then perhaps check out our publications page or go to Amazon to have a quick look inside some of our books. Or of course there is one other choice: do nothing.

You may or may not have the “right”: but do you choose to have choices?

A notice to our print subscribers (Members of Exit):
You may have wondered why you have not heard from us in the past couple of months. You may recall from the last Newsletter magazine that we were facing a very serious financial crisis. We had to take a hard look at our existence and prepare for some difficult choices. Fortunately we are still running (or ‘unfortunately’ for the abolitionists and those resorting to morally dubious tactics to shut us down). We have reorganised things and the future is looking secure even if (as has been the case for 35 years) we keep going by sheer good luck, grit and determination, and the knowledge that people rely on us worldwide in the work of leading research. Thank you for any help you can give.

*Taken from: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande.
These types of questions also relate to work Exit did previously in the area of advance medical directives (living wills) by helping to persuade the government to include a section about values in the legislation.

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EXIT: The Self-Euthanasia Movie

EXIT: THE SELF-EUTHANASIA MOVIEDeep emotions. Self-examination. Joy and seriousness. A roomful of people gathered together last week to spend the day familiarizing themselves not just with ‘methods of self-euthanasia’ (helium and other techniques), but facing the fears, breaking taboos, finding a new community of openness for a sensible discussion but also much laughter and shared good feelings.

It was one of Exit’s long-running full-day interactive workshops. There was a look at the law and the moral dilemmas, then fast forward to imagine a situation when time runs out. Could you remain so calm? Take decisions sensibly and in full control?

Exit workshops are carefully paced to allow people time and opportunity to examine their feelings as well as the physical and intellectual dexterity that they might need one day. Different ‘methods’ are compared and questions asked. What about if you were paralysed? What if an illness was not so serious after all? How do you make sure you get the best pain relief available? For the practicals, people work in small groups, finding out for themselves, what helium is really like, how to make their own ‘hood’ should they need one one day, the pitfalls and care points of five or more methods: not just to think, “I am going to do this one day,” but to know that one is capable should all else fail.

But “A Good Death” is not just about knowing how to swallow pills or use inert gas or any of the other most safe, reliable methods of drawing one’s life to a close when the time comes: it is about peace of mind. A sense of life completed. A sense of one’s own time. The tried and tested techniques for achieving mental composure are introduced. Being at ease with oneself, one’s loved ones and the rest of the world is just as much a part of a “good death” as is lack of pain and indignity in the final moments.

Workshop facilitator Chris Docker has spent not only more than 20 years researching methods of self-deliverance (rational suicide), but has also trained in suicide prevention, palliative care, and advanced meditation techniques. He holds a Masters Degree in Law & Ethics in Medicine and has been a leading advisor on the legalities of end-of-life issues to the professions.

EXIT: THE SELF-EUTHANASIA MOVIE See the trailer HERE

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