Euthanasia & assisted suicide
Euthanasia is popularly taken to mean the practice of helping severely-ill people die, either at their request, or by taking the decision to withdraw life support. With the exception of The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxemburg and the US state of Oregon, euthanasia is illegal everywhere in Europe and in the USA, although the law is under review in a number of places. Note that in most countries assisting someone to carry out suicide is also illegal.
Many terminally ill foreigners now travel to the Dignitas Clinic Switzerland to commit suicide, taking advantage of the Swiss rules, which are among the world's most liberal on assisted suicide.
Dignitas have a very thorough, and what can be lengthy process for assisted suicide, to ensure everything is done legally. Their service for preparing and monitoring the suicide costs 4,000 Euros, and if they assume responsibility for having a doctor present, death certificate, administration and funeral director/cremation, the fee totals 7,000 Euros.
A guide to using Dignitas was created by FATE (Friends At The End), and then adapted and published on the website of Dying With Dignity Queensland in 2008 (note that the costs listed are now slightly out of date, so refer to the Dignitas brochure for current information).
Exit ADMD is another Swiss organization that specialises in assisting suicides for terminally ill people, although only assist those living in Switzerland. On their website they have a section listing all countries that form part of Right to Die International, which all support assisted suicide, and may be able to provide further support and guidance. See http://www.exit-geneve.ch/adresses.htm.
For those that cannot afford the service of Dignitas but would like some additional support and help in assisted suicide, Exit International (www.exitinternational.net), founded by Dr Philip Nitschke, may be a good alternative. In addition to publishing the book The Peaceful Pill, Exit hold regular meetings and workshops in Australia, Canada, the US, UK and NZ. In those workshops, aimed at the terminally ill, advice is given on the best ways of achieving suicide.
In the USA, Compassion & Choices (www.compassionandchoices.org) uses the power of choice and comfort to restore hope to individuals and their loved ones at the end of life. Their professional staff and trained volunteers help thousands of clients each year by listening without judgment to their fears, and guiding their search for a peaceful, humane death. Clients are offered help with advance directives, local service referrals and pain and symptom management. They offer information on self-determined dying when appropriate and provide emotional support through a difficult time.