Monday, January 12, 2009

The Swiss Way Part I: The Dingy Business of Killing People

I’ve detailed in past posts how people, especially from European countries where assisted suicide is illegal, have been flocking to Switzerland to kill themselves. The Swiss killing machine, Dignitas, is the only pro-death Swiss organization that kills foreign visitors.

They want as many people dead as possible, you see. It’s where Dan James and Craig Ewert went to their deaths.

Just for the record, this macabre tourism happens enough that it even has a name – “euthotourism.” 

Sidebar: A sharp entrepreneur is proposing a travel/death package for Kenyans to Switzerland, all inclusive!!


However, “dignity” is not exactly what people have been finding among the Alps and the cuckoo clocks.

Read on.

A little over a year ago, Maxine Coombes decided the extent of her motor neuron disease meant it was time to die. She scrimped and saved the $15,000 for her final trip and travelled to Dignitas accompanied by her sister and her son, Paul Clifford.

Returning to the UK after Coombes’ death, Clifford didn’t see what happened next as dignified at all.

London’s Daily Mail reported what Clifford found. He

said the family had had a “terrible” experience and likened the flat where his mother died to a “backstreet abortion place” with graffiti-covered walls.

To add to his shock, when [Paul’s mother] raised concerns that her son might struggle to cope with her death, a member of staff said he, too, could die at a “cut price” rate.

“When we arrived at the place it was a block of flats, with a buzzer marked Dignitas but there was no answer. We were standing there for about three-quarters of an hour until a man arrived wearing a leather jacket with a sports bag over his shoulder, a dirty blue Tshirt, jeans with the knees cut out and smoking a roll-up [joint]. There was paint and graffiti on the walls outside, and the same on the door to the apartment. Inside there was a coffee table, four chairs around it, a bench, and a little washbasin.

After Coombes died, Paul described his interaction with the Dignitas representatives:

“He wanted us to go out of the room while he checked she was dead. We had to sit on a flight of stairs which stank of urine. We went back in but two police officers, the state prosecutor and two staff and a medical examiner arrived. We were asked loads of questions, with my mum still slumped there . . . in her wheelchair. We were there for at least two and a half hours.

During the questioning, Mr Clifford said, [a Dignitas assistant] rolled a cigarette while a female member of staff with a red “punkrock” hairstyle took her dog out for a walk.

After the police were “satisfied” with their answers, the pair had to leave again. When they were let back in to spend a few minutes with his mother’s corpse, they found her on a bench “going blue”, covered in a “dirty blanket like half a curtain”, with “her clothes chucked on the floor”.

The banal casualness of death.

Dirty, stinky, routine.

Unremarkable. Cold.

Just like brushing your teeth: A necessary waste of time.

Here’s the kicker: This nightmare will hardly engender much shock or outrage, I’m afraid.

Why? Because the spin and pressure will be to pass laws to make places where people kill themselves nice and comfy, clean, and warm.

Decency and love have disappeared.

Barbarity is cool.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would have demanded a refund ;)

So they offered a discount to her son if he wanted to die, given the grief his mum's death would cause??? These people belong in the nut house.