Woman Suffers Painful Death at Zurich Suicide Facility—Investigation May Follow

By Gudrun Schultz

  ZURICH, Switzerland, January 10, 2007 ( - A woman suffered severe pain after taking a fatal dose of poison at a Zurich suicide facility, crying in pain for four minutes before falling into a coma, the German news source Deutsche Welle reported yesterday.

  According to a report in Zurich’s SonntagsZeitung news last Sunday, the 43-year-old woman suffered from a brain tumor. After taking a toxic concoction prepared by Dignitas employees, the woman known as A.H. cried out, “It’s burning. I’m burning,” before succumbing to the poison and falling into a coma.

  It took another 38 minutes for her to die, according to the SonntagsZeitung.

  Despite Dignitas’ claim of offering a peaceful and dignified death to those who approach the organization, the report said one man endured a lingering death over three days. Known as Peter A., a German, the man spent three days in a coma before finally succumbing to the poison given him by the Dignitas team, the Zurich newspaper reported.

  It is not known yet if an official investigation will be held into the two incidents, a spokeswoman for the Zurich canton prosecutor’s office told Deutsche Welle.

  Dignitas refused to discuss the accusations when approached by the AFP news agency. “We have no comment on any reports by the Tamedia house in Zurich,” 74-year-old Ludwig Minelli, head of the organization, said in an email—Tamedia house publishes the SonntagsZeitung.

  An inquest was conducted in June of 2004 into the double suicide deaths of a British couple at the Swiss facility, after it was revealed neither Robert nor Jennifer Stokes were terminally ill. Robert, 59, suffered with depression and had epilepsy, while his wife Jennifer had arthritis of the spine.

  According to a Scotsman news report, the couple were fulfilling an “attention seeking” pre-arranged pact. The couple’s son David released a statement saying he believed his parents were mentally disturbed but he had no knowledge of any terminal illness.

  While Switzerland has some of the most liberal assisted suicide laws in the world, the laws limit the procedure to those people who are suffering from terminal illness. Minelli, however,  told the UK’s Telegraph that Dignitas would gladly assist anyone, “irrespective of medical condition,” earlier that year.

  The Dignitas organization has administered lethal drugs to some 600 individuals since its beginning in 1998, according to Minelli.

  See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

  Inquest Opens into Couple’s Double Suicide Death at Swiss Dignitas Facility

  Swiss Police Investigate Suicide Group ‘dignitas’

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