Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide - Archive

Neighbors’ Complaints Succeed in Evicting Dignitas from Residence (2007)

The Swiss assisted-suicide group Dignitas has been evicted from its operation site in a suburban area due to growing complaints from neighbors. For nine years the assisted-suicide clinic at Gertrudstrasse 84 received people three or four times a week — waiting to die.

The organization took up two apartments of the apartment block; but recently the owner cancelled their lease because residents were horrified by the stream of body bags that were carried out on the elevator and are frustrated by the police and ambulances that constantly come to the door. The landlady has given Dignitas until September to find a new residence.

The eviction is especially significant, reports Spiegel, because the landlady is a cousin of Ludwig Minelli, the head and primary launcher of Dignitas.

Residents started the eviction movement, gathering signatures to petition against Dignitas. Gloria told Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung that the place had become a “house of death.”

Last year Gloria was also quoted in UK’s Telegraph, “We call it the ‘House of Horrors’. This is meant to be a residential flat but some days you’d think it was a morgue.” She also noted that not all of the people who came with a one-way ticket were old. She said, “The look in their eyes haunts me, particularly if they are young.”

Other residents complained that their children were constantly exposed to the dying and dead bodies. One woman was quoted in the Guardian Unlimited, saying that she changed her household chores in order not to “bump into a corpse while I’m taking out the rubbish.”

Earlier this year, the Swiss High Court ruled in a suit filed by Dignitas that the mentally ill also have a “right” to assisted suicide. According to Spiegel, since Dignitas was launched in 1998 it has been responsible for 700 deaths.

More than half of those using the Dignitas service to end their lives are from Germany, where the organization now has an office, and the second biggest group is from Britain. At present, euthanasia is also legal in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Oregon. In Switzerland, all that is needed is for a doctor to confirm that the person in question wishes to die and then write a prescription for a lethal dose of the barbiturate sodium pentobarbital.

People wishing to die are accompanied by a “suicide assistant,” but patients administer the dose themselves.

Critics argue the Dignitas makes it all too easy. This June the Swiss senate called on the government to draft a law aimed at improving controls of organizations offering assisted suicide and the National Commission on Biomedic Ethics, a government advisory panel, has also recommended increased state supervision of organizations such as Dignitas. Swiss Senator Hansruedi Stadler, who is behind the moves to change the law, told Germany’s Ärtze Zeitung: “They arrive in Switzerland on the day of their death, have some kind of conversation with a representative of the assisted suicide organization and the doctor, who writes a prescription and a few hours later they get the lethal dose. The clarification of whether the person desires death takes time and can’t be rushed through at top speed.”

Related: Mentally Ill have a Right to Assisted Suicide-Swiss High Court —
Switzerland Refuses to Alter Assisted Suicide Law to Nix Death Tourism  —
Swiss Lure Suicide Victims: Euthanasia Administered Within 24 Hours   —
Inquest Opens into Couple’s Double Suicide Death at Swiss Dignitas Facility  —
Swiss Euthanasia-Providing Group Branches Out to Germany   —
Neighbors Complain Swiss Euthanasia ‘Clinic’ Parade of Dead Bodies Disturbing
[Spiegel News,,1518,494275,00.html, ZURICH, Switzerland, 17July2007; Cheryl Eckstein Compassionate Healthcare Network (CHN), ]