Switzerland may allow assisted death in nursing homes

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WASHINGTON — Assisted-suicide advocates in Switzerland soon may have a new pool of recruits to their lethal cause — nursing home residents.

The citizens of Vaud, one of 26 cantons in Switzerland, will vote on a referendum to implement regulations on assisted suicides for residents of government-subsidized nursing homes, according to the Daily Mail, a British newspaper. Vaud voters approved in 2009 an earlier referendum to enact such a law and now need only to pass the guidelines to enforce the measure.

Holding a public referendum on such an issue is "disgraceful," said Jerome Azau, director of a nursing home in Lausanne, the capital of Vaud, the Daily Mail reported.

"It sends a message to young people that they can simply commit suicide when they get older," Azau said. "It's unacceptable."

Switzerland permits assisted suicide. It has five organizations that aid in assisted suicide, including Exit.

The number of people who utilized Exit's services to kill themselves increased by 15 percent to 257 in 2010. according to swissinfo, a news enterprise of the Swiss Broadcasting Corp. In 2009, Exit aided in 217 assisted suicides.

The organization also reported its membership increased dramatically last year from 4,000 to 70,000 people. The huge increase came because of government officials' efforts to strengthen regulations of assisted suicide, swissinfo reported. People must be members of Exit in order to use its services for assisted suicide.

Exit only assists residents of Switzerland in committing suicide, while Dignitas, another assisted-suicide provider, aids people from other countries. Dignitas has yet to reveal its statistics for 2010.


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