The Suicide Tourist

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Rating: 8.7/10 (36 votes cast)
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The controversy about a person’s right to die at a time and place of their own choosing has become focused on the Swiss organization Dignitas, and its founder Ludwig Minelli. Dignitas, in Zurich Switzerland, is the only place in the world where a person seeking an assisted suicide can be helped to die, no matter where they are from – and no matter what their state of health. For the past year, Oscar-winning Canadian director John Zaritsky has had exclusive access to Dignitas, and its clients.

In The Suicide Tourist, Zaritsky tells two interwoven stories about suicide: In the first, he follows a terminally-ill man, 59 year-old American Craig Ewert, through the last four days of his life – preparing to leave his adopted home in England for the last time, then on his journey to Zurich, and into the care of Dignitas, with whose help he will end his life. Dignitas – a kind of travel agency to the afterlife – has made all the arrangements. The death will take place in a rented apartment, where a Dignitas employee will prepare a fatal dose of sodium pentobarbital. With his wife Mary at his side, Craig will swallow the poison, and slip quietly into a final sleep. Dignitas will arrange all the necessary paperwork, the body will be cremated, and the ashes shipped home to his family.

In Switzerland, the law says only that suicide must not be assisted for personal gain. Ludwig Minelli, the civil rights lawyer who founded and runs Dignitas, believes the option of a painless and dignified death is a basic human right, and should be legal for all, even those who aren’t ill. The second story in The Suicide Tourist will follow George and Betty Coumbias, from Vancouver, who will test that philosophy, and the Swiss tolerance for a law some say is giving Zurich a reputation for suicide tourism: George has terminal heart disease, and would like to choose the time of his death with the help of Dignitas; his wife Betty is determined to die with him, even though she is perfectly healthy.

Through these two intimate, compelling, and controversial stories, we will understand the difficult choices these couples have made; choices we, or our friends and family members, will be faced with at some point in our lives. The Suicide Tourist will take the audience on a journey they could only have imagined, and will not forget.

The Suicide Tourist, 8.7 out of 10 based on 36 ratings

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  • Catherine

    Very moving and humane view on a sensitive topic. I cried my heart out for Craig and his wife and was amazed by how strong they both were. Good thing there is a peaceful way to go for these people.

  • kathy collins

    I too was very moved by this video. But, all the more reason I think it should be legalized. I know a 13 year old girl that has suffered from bone cancer for 3 years at which time they removed her left shoulder blade and there is nothing more they can do for her except control her pain which nothing seems to work anymore for her and she is in constant pain. She told her mother that she wanted to die – the pain was that bad. There is no more hope for her.

  • ella

    I don’t get it, why is this wrong?… god is most likely a human creation, so irrelevant… why else shouldn’t you be able to?

  • http://www.sport3bet.com Kim Hayward

    Top post.. thanks for sharing

  • Cherilynnhoward

    We should all have the right to end our suffering but it’s sad that a perfectly healthy woman thinks her life should end with her husband.

    • Sway

      Sad yes, but i also believe that the tradition of suiciding of widows, who fling themselves onto their husbands funeral pire, was quiet strong until very recently in our history ( in india i believe). I think the right to have this choice without fear of the courts is an important human right. And i think that people who think to prosecute the loved ones who assist need to seriously have a think about what they would do if it were them in their shoes, and how they would feel being prosecuted over a loved ones death.

  • Cherilynnhoward

    We should all have the right to end our suffering but it’s sad that a perfectly healthy woman thinks her life should end with her husband.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/6TOSJEHMDMXPJH4WOANBPT5FQI Janessa

      I honestly would do the same…I couldn’t live without mine.  

  • Cherilynnhoward

    We should all have the right to end our suffering but it’s sad that a perfectly healthy woman thinks her life should end with her husband.

  • Cheers

    he and she were very brave… very very touching indeed. i almost cried and was happy for him at the same time. what a glorious way to go listening beethoven’s symphony while ending his life in humain and peaceful way when hes wife is next to him. i dont believe in any heaven or spiritual things but i really really hope he can finally be in peace now. best of luck.

  • Gdsl

    Respect.

  • Gdsl

    Respect.

  • Gdsl

    Respect.

  • g k

    its so tragic that there have to be illnesses so bad that people have to resort to taking those decisions.very touching and very sad.
    regardless of the docu however,it seems to me that theres alot of atheists watching these documentaries.why is that i wonder….
     
     

    • stfu

      and how exactly do you know what our religious beliefs are? I am watching this because I suffer from a chronic pain disorder and assisted suicide is something I mite like to have available to me someday. It has not one single thing to do with what I choose to believe in. 

  • g k

    its so tragic that there have to be illnesses so bad that people have to resort to taking those decisions.very touching and very sad.
    regardless of the docu however,it seems to me that theres alot of atheists watching these documentaries.why is that i wonder….
     
     

  • g k

    its so tragic that there have to be illnesses so bad that people have to resort to taking those decisions.very touching and very sad.
    regardless of the docu however,it seems to me that theres alot of atheists watching these documentaries.why is that i wonder….
     
     

  • Ajcaron17

    I find it trully amayzing how brave this man was….. Must be so scary. 

  • Jay

    This is the most powerful documentary I’ve seen. I respect Craig’s decision immensely.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6TOSJEHMDMXPJH4WOANBPT5FQI Janessa

    This was so difficult for me to watch, as I lost someone very close to me to ALS, and she had to starve herself to death, because this was not an option for her…

  • Fiona Zabeli

    I just watched this very sad video and I must admit I have so much respect for this dying man and his family also towards the people who made this possible for him to end his dying life peacefully RIP.