Over 10% of euthanasia deaths in Switzerland in 2021
Alan Delon, one of the greatest French movie stars of all time sought to end his life by euthanasia. According to his son, Delon made it clear to his family members, when he was 86 and after a double stroke, that he was interested in assisting with suicide. Delon lives in Switzerland, where euthanasia is a legal and accepted practice.Delon has previously expressed his intentions to undergo a suicide aid procedure. “Euthanasia is the most logical and natural thing that can be done,” he said in an interview with Paris Match magazine last year.

A high percentage of Israelis fly to Switzerland to end their lives

In Israel, as in quite a few countries, the euthanasia procedure is not enshrined in law. There are countries in the world like Oregon, Washington and Vermont in the United States, Belgium and the Netherlands that allow the procedure, but only for the citizens of their country. Switzerland is the only country that allows non-citizens to come and end their lives, with the help of the Dignitas organization (worth) Established in 1998 by Swiss lawyer Ludwig Minelli.

Quite a few Israelis come to Switzerland every year to end their lives. In 2021, 212 people from all over the world came to Dignites in Switzerland to end their lives, of which a very high relative rate of about 30 Israelis. Sometimes you also hear about celebrities who have chosen to end their lives this way. The late Adi Talmore, the veteran editor and presenter of Gali Tzahal, chose to end his life in August 2011, after suffering from terminal cancer. The late director Roni Pinkovich also chose to end his life in Switzerland in December 2020, after suffering from multiple sclerosis for 30 years.

Jewish law, as is well known, forbids sweeping euthanasia. In 2010, a bill was introduced in Israel that sought to allow terminally ill patients to receive a prescription from the doctor for a lethal drug that would allow them to end their lives on their own, without pain, but it was not approved. In 2016, the bill was raised again and rejected.

In 2006, the “Dying Patient Act” came into force, which regulates the treatment of terminally ill patients, and allows a patient suffering from an incurable medical problem, whose life expectancy does not exceed six months, to refuse medical treatment that will prolong his life. The law states that treatments such as connection to a respirator, surgery or dialysis can be avoided if the patient so requests.


Euthanasia in Switzerland (Photo: Private - approved for use)
I feel like I’m like a doula of the next world | Photo: Private – approved for use

“The main story is the human story of accompanying families”

The bureaucratic procedure is not simple, almost Sisyphean. You can do it yourself, or go to the “Last Wish” website. Shlomi (the family name is stored in the system), the site’s founder, accompanies quite a few people and families, from the bureaucratic process to the trip to Switzerland. He actually serves as a mediator between the association and families in Israel, a position that Dignitas had difficulty accepting at first. “Today we are already in a great relationship,” he says.

It was not easy for him to respond to this interview. He usually chooses to stay behind the scenes, mostly for reasons of modesty and morality. It is not easy to do public relations for such a procedure. “There is no one in the country who deals with it, there is no organization in the world that mediates the process of ending life,” he says, emphasizing that it is not euthanasia. They need to be at a sufficient cognition level in order to make the decision to end their lives. ”

Shlomi, who owned an independent high-tech business, came to the field three years ago, and not because of a personal story of a family member, but for another prose reason. He voluntarily repaired a computer for an elderly couple, and they told him that they had tried for a long time without success to complete the registration procedure for euthanasia in Switzerland for the elderly. He helped them and from there it’s all history. “I felt I had found my destiny,” he says. “It was very difficult, but little by little I realized my role. Making the experience of death from traumatic to bearable, makes the journey meaningful.”


Euthanasia in Switzerland (Photo: Private - approved for use)
Photo: Private – approved for use


This is a procedure of several months, three or four minimums, which costs quite a bit of money. The estimated cost ranges from NIS 100,000 to NIS 200,000, depending on whether you did it yourself or used a “last wish” and additional costs in the form of flying a closet back to Israel. In the first stage, you register with the Dignites Association, and then the procedure begins. An official application for termination of life is submitted, which includes medical reports, and a psychiatric opinion, which confirms that the person is not only clear, but has the option to exercise discretion regarding the continuation of life. “People with dementia also come,” says Shlomi, Clearly. They can say they want to die because they do not remember the names of their children, for example, and have become independent. ”

What are the criteria?
“There is a set of criteria. The patient should be in a position where he can fly to Switzerland and drink the substance himself, there are cases where the drink is given by infusion, provided the patient can press the button himself. ALS MS, Parkinson’s. Once you have been diagnosed with one of these diseases it is possible to get even if the condition is still reasonable. “.


Euthanasia in Switzerland (Photo: Private - approved for use)
The blue house where the procedure is performed | Photo: Private – approved for use


“See a person sleeping, without pain, without dreams”

Along with the medical documents, a life story should be written detailing the history of the person’s life, who will accompany him and whether the family supports the decision. It takes the association about a month to get to the application and analyze it, the waiting time is long because of the large number of applicants from all over the world. If the application is approved, a payment request is received in the amount of 4,000 Swiss francs, which is about 14,000 shekels, and you receive a green light to continue, ie a permit to end life in Switzerland at the time the person chooses. Some will choose to use the green light immediately and others will use it as a contingency plan when their condition worsens.

“Everything must be translated into English or German,” says Shlomi. “The original certificates in addition to additional documents should be sent to Diginitas by mail before the patient arrives in Switzerland. Before arrival a payment of 7,000 francs should be arranged, for the procedure to be performed and appointments with the local doctor.

The moment comes, how does it happen?
“Arrive the day before, with family or friends. Usually do not come alone. A doctor from the organization comes to meet the person and have a conversation with him about his desire to end his life. The main question is ‘Did you come to Switzerland to end your life?'” At the end of the conversation the person Released, and he usually goes out with his family to dinner, the last meal if you will. In the morning we meet again with the doctor who again asks the patient if he has changed his mind. Happens”.


Euthanasia in Switzerland (Photo: Private - approved for use)
Every person I accompany I add a bird tattoo on the wrist | Photo: Private – approved for use

The blue house?
“Imagine a warm European B&B with a dining area, a bed, an armchair and a living room. The person has to sign a number of documents, and confirm that he really wants to do it. He gives the local staff a power of attorney to take care of his affairs after death. At this point one has to wait at least half an hour. Up to this point there is at any given moment the possibility of repentance. At this point, the patient will decide whether to sit in an armchair or lie in bed. Sweeten the bitter taste of the potion. The substance affects the nervous system and the person sinks very quickly to a deep sleep that progresses to unconsciousness and after a few minutes to cessation of breathing and death. You see a person sleeping, without pain, without dreams. ”

Even before the flight, the patient has to decide whether he wants to be buried in Israel or whether he prefers to have his body cremated in Switzerland. The cremation process does not cost money, but flying the body in the coffin costs about NIS 40,000.

“I feel like I’m like a doula of the next world,” says Shlomi, “very close and deep bonds are formed between me and the families. Every person I accompany I add a bird tattoo on my hand. I engrave his memory on my body.”


By Editor

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