Suicide appeal dismissed by European court

Switzerland did not violate any human rights when it refused to give a mentally ill man over-the-counter access to a drug in order to end his life.

This content was published on January 20, 2011 - 11:45 and agencies

In a ruling on Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg dismissed an appeal by the 58-year-old man, who after two suicide attempts in 2004 turned to Dignitas, a Swiss assisted suicide organisation.

However, no doctor was prepared to write a prescription for the necessary 15 grams of sodium pentobarbital, which is available only on prescription.

He then turned to the cantonal authorities in Zurich and the government to try to obtain the drug without a prescription. He was turned away, the rejection being confirmed by the federal court in 2006.

The European Court of Human Rights concluded that the Swiss authorities, in refusing to provide the drug without a prescription, had not violated the man’s right to respect for his private and family life.

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