Dignitas probed for helping mentally ill man kill himself

The Dignitas suicide clinic is being investigated by the Swiss authorities after it was revealed that the controversial organisation had helped a mentally ill man commit suicide.

Swiss law requires that every patient at the facility must be able to understand the consequences of their actions, and that they are of sound mind.

But now press reports have revealed that in 2008 a Spanish patient, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was prescribed a suicide kit despite his condition.


Under Swiss law a suicide kit should only have been handed out after careful consideration of the man’s case, but the Dignitas report on the 39-year-olds mental state barely covered half a page of A4 paper.

The Swiss medical authorities are now investigating the case and have described the incident as a “serious neglect of care”.

In April 2009 the founder of the Dignitas called suicide a “marvellous possibility” and said that he wanted to help healthy people and the mentally ill to die.


Mr Minelli also admitted that Dignitas has helped psychiatric patients die, including people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.

In an interview with the BBC Mr Minelli said: “I have a totally different attitude to suicide. I say suicide is a marvellous possibility given to a human being.”

He added: “Suicide is a very good possibility to escape a situation which you can’t alter.”


Last month a former employee revealed that the ashes of up to 50 Britons who committed suicide at the Dignitas facility were dumped in nearby Lake Zurich.

The ashes were discovered by divers who recovered dozens of urns from the bottom of the lake.

Former Dignitas nurse, Soraya Wernli, claimed there could be 300 urns hidden beneath the cold waters.


Several patients had made clear that they wished to be buried alongside relatives in Britain, but instead the urns were dumped in Lake Zurich in order to cut costs, claimed Mrs Wernli.

“The terrible thing is that people’s last wishes weren’t respected”, said the former employee. “Women wanted to be buried next to their husbands, but instead Dignitas threw their ashes in the lake”.

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