The Swiss organisation, Dignitas, provides the main option for direct assisted suicide for those living in the UK. Yet apart from the considerable cost, there are worrying news reports. Divers from a rescue service accidentally discovered some 300 urns dumped in Lake Zurich near the Swiss assisted suicide clinic, Dignitas, and bearing the logo of the cremation service they are thought to use. Back in 2008, two Dignitas employees were caught dumping ashes into the lake when a local landowner spotted two people trying to pour ashes into the lake on his property. Last March, Dignitas Director, Ludwig Minelli, admitted in an interview with The Atlantic magazine that when he had enough urns to fill his car he drove to a quiet spot on Lake Zurich and tossed them into the water.
The Director of Public Prosecutions clarified and eased concerns with recent guidelines. While not providing any guarantee against prosecution, they clarified the Suicide Act 1961 so persons were less likely to fear prosecution by accompanying a loved one to Switzerland.
But it is not ideal, even if concerns over Dignitas should prove unfounded (Dignitas chose not to respond when EXIT raised concerns over the organisation’s working methods last year). Why should UK citizens need to travel abroad at great expense just to ease the suffering of their final days? Is wrong to allow someone to choose the time of their own passing? Would it not be better if it was done in the open, in our own country, and with better safeguards than apparently offered in an apartment block in Zurich?