One Irish resident used a Swiss-based organization for an assisted suicide in 2013 according to new figures released by the Dignitas service.

The organization was established in Switzerland 15 years ago to aid those wishing to take their own lives on medical grounds.

Their latest figures show 202 people had an ‘accompanied suicide’ last year, the highest number since the group’s inception.

The Irish Times reports that a total of eight Irish residents are now believed to have traveled to Switzerland to take their own lives over the 15 years.

Euthanasia or assisted suicide is legal in four European countries – Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Switzerland is the only one of the four states that allows non-residents with a terminal illness to have an assisted suicide.

Dignitas reports that it has assisted in the suicides of almost 1,700 people from 42 countries since 1998, with almost half of those people coming from Germany.

Silvan Luley of Dignitas told the Irish Times, “It does not matter whether six, five or seven patients from Ireland or any other country have traveled to Dignitas.

“Everyone who is forced to leave his home, his bed, his country in order to have access to a legal, self-determined, dignified and accompanied ending of suffering is one too many.

“Every single one is a proof of the indifferent and careless approach of politicians and other authorities who deny access to this basic human right – and thus are directly responsible for causing a lot of suffering due to clandestine suicide attempts, of which the large majority fails – with all dire consequences.”

Dignitas had offered to help Irish multiple sclerosis sufferer Marie Fleming, the woman who brought an unsuccessful right-to-die challenge to the Irish Supreme Court last year. She died at her home in Arklow, Co Wicklow, last month.

Luley said, “She was a very brave woman, and so is her family. There should be more people like her who fight the legal path. If politicians are too inhumane to move, then, sooner or later, the judges, if necessary the European Court of Human Rights, will decide over their head.”

Guinness-march2019