Since 1942 Switzerland has allowed voluntary assisted dying (VAD) provided the motives of the person assisting are not selfish. Switzerland is the only country in the world that allows non-citizens to receive VAD provided they meet strict criteria:
• 18 years or over
• capable of sound judgement; able to consent to the procedure
• able to administer the lethal substance to themselves
• does not have a mental illness
There are currently three main Swiss organisations offering an assisted death:
DIGNITAS – is the most prominent Swiss organisation providing VAD to foreigners. It was founded in May 1998 with the aim of allowing non-Swiss individuals access to the proven Swiss model of freedom of choice, self-determination and personal responsibility at life’s end. A German arm of this group was established in 2005. DIGNITAS’ activities go beyond accompanied suicide, with a large part of their work being counselling of persons – mostly from abroad – who get in touch with them in writing or by telephone for a variety of reasons. Since 2012 Dignitas has provided VAD to just over 200 people per year.
NB: A statement from Dignitas in August 2017 included the warning that “Preparing and carrying out accompanied suicide is very labour-intensive and complex, especially with individuals from abroad. The costs associated with it cannot always be fully borne by the members themselves. The Swiss legal system imposes strict rules about allowing people from abroad to have access to a voluntary assisted death with Dignitas, investigating every death to ensure safety and transparency.” – see Dignitas note 210817
Lifecircle started in 2011 and offers VAD to foreigners and people living in Switzerland.
EXIT (Deutsche Schweiz) started in 1982 and provides VAD to Swiss citizens only. It is not related to EXIT International founded by Philip Nitschke.
For more information about the provision of assisted dying in Switzerland to people who are NOT Swiss citizens or permanent residents of Switzerland see our General Questions section and the answer to the question: ‘COULD I GO TO SWITZERLAND TO HAVE AN ASSISTED DEATH?’