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Exit Brothers continue legal pursuit of assisted suicide organisation

Under Switzerland's right-to-die laws, doctors acting for an assisted suicide organisation like Exit may prescribe patients lethal doses of barbiturates.

(Keystone)

Two brothers from Geneva, who wanted to prevent their older brother from ending his own life, are appealing the Attorney General’s Office’s decision not to take their case against assisted suicide organisation Exit.

The two brothers had originally filed a case at the end of October last year, arguing that their 82-year-old eldest brother was in good physical health and that his wish to die with the help of Exit’s francophone group, based in Geneva, was linked to depression.

While waiting for a court ruling on this bid to prevent Exit from helping the eldest brother die, the assisted suicide non-profit was forbidden from prescribing him any lethal substances. However, the brother then took his own life by other means in November 2016.

The surviving brothers now allege that Exit knew that the deceased was very likely to attempt to take his own life, and failed to provide any psychiatric assistance in the interest of “saving face”, the Swiss News Agency reported Monday. 

But on May 16, the Attorney General’s Office decided not to take the case, ruling that there had been no failure on Exit’s part to provide help. The brothers now plan to appeal the decision.

Expanding the scope of assisted suicide

On Sunday, Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche reported that 15 members of Exit’s group based in German-speaking Switzerland have proposed that assisted suicide be provided to elderly people who, despite being in good physical condition, wish to die because they are too tired or depressed to go on, or because they have “lost their taste for life”. Currently, Exit only helps to end the lives of patients with terminal illnesses or severe disabilities. The matter will be debated by Exit’s general assembly in mid-June.

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