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Final Choice. Assisted suicide and suicide tourism in Switzerland

English title Final Choice. Assisted suicide and suicide tourism in Switzerland
Applicant Bosshard Georg
Number 112657
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Rechtsmedizin Universität Zürich-Irchel
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Medico-Social Problems of the Elderly
Start/End 01.04.2006 - 31.03.2009
Approved amount 131'300.00
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Keywords (5)

assisted suicide; euthanasia; end-of-life; policy making; medical ethics

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
An intense debate on assisted dying is taking place in most westernised countries, with a pronounced need for reliable scientific data. In 2003, a study carried out by the Institute of Legal Medicine of the University of Zurich (ILMZ) for the first time provided comprehensive reliable data on the practice of assisted suicide provided by Exit, the most important Swiss right-to-die organisation. However, no scientific data exist so far on the practice of the right-to-die society Dignitas which provides assistance in suicide to an increasing number of people travelling from several foreign countries to Switzerland for that purpose (suicide tourism). Almost all cases of suicide tourism have been investigated by the ILMZ.
To extend the existing knowledge about the practice of Exit to the most recent developments including suicide tourism, and to carry out an in-depth analysis of the motives of the deceased persons and of the process of seeking assistance in suicide.
Material and methods
This study is based on an in depth analysis of the medico-legal files of about 300 cases of suicide tourists, and about 200 cases of assistance in suicide among Swiss residents in the city of Zurich between 2001 and 2004.
All these files contain a structured report by a medico-legal expert and a record sheet from the right-to-die society. Most of them also include text documents such as a medical report/opinion and often a letter or a note written by the deceased person.
A quantitative statistical analysis of the structured reports and forms will be done to investigate the sociodemographic and medical parameters of the deceased persons, their end-of-life concerns, and information on how the suicide was performed.
A qualitative analysis (content analysis using specific Grounded Theorymethods) of the text documents will be used to investigate the rationale for wishing to die and the process of seeking suicide assistence in order to explain how illness steered the person’s life course in that particular direction.
Expected value of the proposed project
The unique nature of the data which reflect the special position assisted suicide has in Switzerland and the researchers’ high qualifications in this topic and in the proposed methodologies will provide well founded results und thus ensure a substantial impact on the national and international research communities, the public, and the policy-making bodies.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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