Six Irish people have killed themselves at an assisted suicide service in Switzerland through a company called Dignitas, which specializes in assisting suicides.
The service was founded in 1998 and has carried out a total of 1,041 assisted suicides in the last 11 years.
A total of 89 suicides took place at Dignitas this year. One of them was an Irish resident.
Figures released by Dignitas show that three Irish people committed suicide there in 2005 and one in both 2003 and 2004.
A total of 29 Irish people have registered with company and pay an annual membership fee on top of a joining fee.
The Dignitas website claims that people are permitted to avail of the service if they do so for altruistic reasons.
Assisted suicide is not euthanasia. Unlike euthanasia a physician must not take part in the assisted suicide.
"Accompanied suicide always takes place under the guidance of experienced Dignitas escorts, preferably in the presence of next-of-kin and friends of the member, in the frame of the law of Switzerland, and follows a certain preparation and a procedure which allows a painless and risk-free self-determined end of life,” said a spokesperson for Dignitas.
Dignitas says that a person must be able to possess a significant level of mobility to self-administer a strong barbiturate that is used in the assisted suicide.
The Swiss government is currently reviewing legislation and is looking to ban assisted suicide in their country.
“We have no interest, as a country, in being attractive for suicide tourism,” said Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.
Assisted suicide has been permitted in Switzerland since the 1940's. Suicide ceased to be a crime in Ireland in 1993. However the law states that suicide must not be assisted. A person that assists a suicide in Ireland or abroad can face up to 14 years in prison.
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