Thinking Out Loud

Exit Newsletter is one of the main foci of this organisation. Although Five Last Acts II remains the standard publication and reference volume, it is through the newsletter-magazine that we can reach members with tips and updates. In this way, it supplements our workshops where members can experience hands-on scenarios and personally connect up a tank of helium, find out about local suppliers, practice compression techniques in a safe environment or have their questions about potential drug use analysed and answered.

The current issue has a typical focus on self-deliverance topics. A three-page article on Emergency Self-Compression includes new diagrams & photos to supplement the reader’s understanding of this means of rational suicide – a method that requires no complex equipment or drugs, and that is so discrete that it can be used in a hospital without attracting unwanted attention from staff.

Short articles, Catching a Rainbow and Just Say No examine, respectively, the quest for barbiturates and the ins and out of refusing foods and liquids as two methods that have both benefits and drawbacks.

Bagging Old-Style looks at the traditional method of using a plastic bag in conjunction with some mild sleeping drugs and examines how the method largely fell out of favour – partly through lack of correct knowledge and partly through the rise in popularity of helium as a method of choice among members of ‘right-to-die’ societies. Elsewhere in the same issue are articles about the role of Dignitas in Switzerland and the pros and cons of assisted suicide there as the method of choice; then Drug Cocktails dispels some of the commonest fallacies about drug overdose as a means of suicide.

Of course, a whole magazine devoted to methodology would be rather dry reading. A two-page spread addresses criticisms from someone opposed to our work. The correspondence began as harsh criticism (received by email) but, once our unique position and views had been communicated, developed into respect and thanks. We do what we do, and we really are not at odds with any other groups (including suicide prevention groups) once both sides examine the finer details.

We were also very fortunate in this issue to have two first-rate contributions by Social Scientist, Emeritus Professor and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University, David Donnison. In the lead article, Thinking Out Loud, he both talks about his own process of facing eventual death and then – with typical Exit practicality – explains how anyone can set up what he has called ‘Diealogue’ groups with friends and contacts to discuss non-religious aspects of one’s own eventual demise. (The Glasgow project has been very successful and even has its own website.)

Book reviews and other ‘coffee-table’ fillers are included in our magazine – no need to mention them in detail here – but hopefully this short overview will offer our Euthanasia Blog readers more of an idea about Exit’s work and even whether to consider if the magazine is something they might wish to receive. Unlike most ‘newsletters’ it is not a round-up of news – although we maybe mention when a bill on euthanasia is being proposed again in parliament. The reason for this is that such news is now available from many sources. Most right-to-die societies offer a newsletter, or you can find free mailing lists or even set up free ‘google news alerts’ to get news on euthanasia and assisted suicide delivered to your inbox.

What Exit does – research and publish, as responsibly as possible, information on methods of rational suicide (or ‘self-deliverance’) – is less common. We’ve been doing it since 1980 and it is the reason our particular organisation was formed.

In our current view, this is not material that should be bandied about online, any more than lethal drugs should be available to children at a corner store! So the magazine is only available to subscribers (see our parent site, if interested) and certainly not ‘on-demand’ (there’s usually quite a waiting period). But for adults that take a responsible interest in controlling their own living and dying, it has a very dedicated following (and also, from other ‘right-to-die’ groups around the world who value our research).

Where does the Blog feature in all this? The Blog hopefully manages several things. For anyone remotely interested in the subject, we try to provide original articles. The right-hand column also links to resources such as legal cases and other blogs we find interesting. Our main audience is the thinking individual, so we have little motivation for ‘preaching to the converted.’ We try to analyse current issues in a new way sometimes, or add information that also is of interest to our print-version members or to those more deeply concerned. But – just in case anyone is still wondering – we don’t answer emails by telling you how to kill yourself!

The dilemma with thinking out loud is having a consideration and awareness of the listener – or in our case, the reader. There is a process of self-discovery in airing one’s thoughts, but also with the overview that it is to help, not to confuse or endanger.

“Thinking Out Loud” is also the title of Professor Donnison’s lead article, describing how groups can ‘think out loud’ together to overcome the taboos on discussing death and dying and, in doing so, maybe find human answers to some of the human problems.

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