Supervised assistance in dying: what you need to know about “assisted suicide” which is practiced among our Swiss neighbors

While the end-of-life bill arrives in the Council of Ministers this Wednesday, April 10, with the thorny issue of supervised assistance in dying, which the government does not name & quot;assisted suicide", zoom on the practice among our neighbors in Switzerland.

The bill may still take time to come to fruition in France. Presented this Wednesday in the Council of Ministers, the text which opens the way to supervised assistance in dying will then be presented to the deputies on May 27, and could therefore theoretically stretch over two years in the event of divergences between the Senate and the National Assembly.

If the government wants above all to emphasize support at the end of life and access to palliative care, the second part of the bill must address ;rsquo;thorny question of active assistance in dying, which is not referred to as "assisted suicide" in France.

The Head of State has already set a framework: adult patients, "capable of full and complete discernment& quot; Suffering from an incurable illness, with a life-threatening prognosis in the short or medium term, may be prescribed a lethal product.

What is it??

Unlike euthanasia, which consists of causing death by medical assistance to a patient, assisted suicide gives the patient the medical means to put themselves to death -same end to his days. Switzerland, for example, although it has chosen to make assisted suicide possible, on the other hand prohibits euthanasia.

What are the conditions for using it ?

The patient must be conscious and have all his powers of discernment to request assisted suicide. In a document on the issue, posted online by the league against cancer in Switzerland, it is explained that it must be about "the act of a person capable of discernment and master of his act who, suffering from an incurable illness and unbearable suffering".

Recently, the rules for accessing assisted suicide in Switzerland have tightened. Doctors must now "conduct at least two interviews with the person who wishes to end their life. For his part, the patient will have to prove that his or her suffering is unbearable", explains RTS.

How does an assisted suicide take place?

"A doctor prescribes the substance after carefully assessing the situation and motives of the person wishing to die. The person then takes the substance orally, enterally or intravenously ; it is imperative that she ingests the substance herself or triggers the infusion herself", details the Swiss Cancer League.

In the Netherlands, one of the pioneering countries in euthanasia, where assisted suicide is also practiced, even if it is in the minority compared to the majority. euthanasia, as the JDD specifies, the act consists of the patient ingesting a potion based on barbiturates themselves, in the presence of a doctor. These substances are drugs which "act as depressants of the activity of the central nervous system", specifies l&rsquo ;European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Which other countries offer this type of device?

"At the end of 2021, euthanasia and assisted suicide are taking place in the Benelux countries, Spain, Canada, New Zealand and certain Australian states […] and assisted suicide in Austria, Switzerland and in some American states", recalls the philosopher Olivier Rey in a cross-interview published on the Vie Publique website .

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