Assisted Suicide by Oxygen Deprivation with Helium at
a Swiss Right-to-Die Organisation
Russel D. Ogden
207 Osborne Avenue
New Westminster, BC
CANADA V3L 1Y7
Tel (604) 540-4342
Affiliation: Groningen University, PhD candidate
William K. Hamilton, M.D.
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
Affiliation: Emeritus Professor of Anesthesia,
University of California, San Francisco, CA
Charles Whitcher, M.D.
Stanford, CA, USA
Affiliation: Emeritus Professor of Clinical Anesthesia,
Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Competing Interest: None declared
The Corresponding Author has the right to grant on behalf of all authors and does grant
on behalf of all authors, an exclusive licence (or non-exclusive for government
employees) on a worldwide basis to the BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and its Licensees to
permit this article (if accepted) to be published in Journal of Medical Ethics and any other
BMJPGL products to exploit all subsidiary rights, as set out in our licence
Key Words: right-to-die; assisted suicide; oxygen deprivation; helium; Dignitas
Word count: (3908) - excluding title page, abstract, references, figures and tables.
In Switzerland, right-to-die organisations assist their members with suicide by lethal
drugs, usually barbiturates. One organisation, Dignitas, has experimented with oxygen
deprivation as an alternative to sodium pentobarbital.
To analyse the process of assisted suicide by oxygen deprivation with helium and a
common face mask and reservoir bag.
This study examined four cases of assisted suicide by oxygen deprivation using helium
delivered via a face mask. Videos of the deaths were provided by the Zurich police.
Dignitas provided protocol and consent information.
One male and three females were assisted to death by oxygen deprivation. There was
wide variation in the time to unconsciousness and the time to death, probably due to the
poor mask fit. Swiss law prevented attendants from effectively managing the face mask
apparatus. Purposeless movements of the extremities were disconcerting for Dignitas
attendants, who are accustomed to assisting suicide with barbiturates. None of the dying
individuals attempted self-rescue.
The dying process of oxygen deprivation with helium is potentially quick and appears
painless. It also bypasses the prescribing role of physicians, effectively demedicalising
assisted suicide. Oxygen deprivation with a face mask is not acceptable because leaks
are difficult to control and it may not eliminate rebreathing. These factors will extend
time to unconsciousness and time to death. A hood method could reduce the problem of
mask fit. With a hood, a flow rate of helium sufficient to provide continuous washout of
expired gases would remedy problems observed with the mask.
Assisted Suicide by Oxygen Deprivation with Helium
at a Swiss Right-to-Die Organisation
In Switzerland, Article 115 of the Penal Code makes assisted suicide punishable only if it
is performed with self-interest.[1-3] While this legal situation makes it possible for
anyone to assist in suicide, as long as there is no self-interest, right-to-die organisations
have led the development of an open practice that ensures routine reporting of assisted
suicides to the authorities for criminal investigation.[2-3] Every year there are several
hundred such deaths and prosecutions are very rare.
The two largest Swiss right-to-die organisations were established in 1982. In Zurich, Exit
Deutsche Schweiz was founded for German speaking members. In Geneva, Exit ADMD
(Association pour le droit de mourir) was founded for French speaking members. In
1998, Ludwig A. Minelli, a human rights lawyer, founded Dignitas—To live with dignity
- To die with dignity. Foreigners make up the majority of suicides assisted by Zurich-
based Dignitas, thus the organisation is frequently characterized as a destination for
“suicide tourism” (table 1). This suicide tourism was the subject of an acclaimed 2007
documentary, The Suicide Tourist, which aired on television networks in several
countries. The documentary showed the assisted suicide of a terminally ill man who
drank sodium pentobarbital.
Table 1 Number of Assisted Suicides by Country and Year (May 1998 – April 2008)
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Total Total %
Switzerland 1 4 3 11 17 9 14 12 15 6 8 100 11.63
Germany 1 4 31 50 45 66 78 120 75 14 484 56.28
Great Britain 1 15 10 15 26 17 7 91 10.58
France 2 4 12 3 12 16 18 10 77 8.95
Austria 1 2 2 2 3 2 3 2 17 1.98
Italy 1 2 4 2 1 10 1.16
Australia 1 1 1 1 4 8 0.93
Belgium 1 1 0.12
Denmark 1 1 0.12
Greece 1 1 0.12
Hong Kong 1 1 0.12
Ireland 1 1 3 5 0.58
Israel 1 4 1 2 2 10 1.16
Canada 1 1 1 3 0.12
Lebanon 1 1 0.12
Morocco 1 1 0.12
Mexico 1 1 0.12
Netherlands 1 1 1 2 2 1 8 0.93
Peru 1 1 0.12
Sweden 2 2 3 2 9 1.05
Spain 1 1 1 2 3 3 1 12 1.40
Thailand 1 1 0.12
Republic 1 1 2 0.23
Hungary 1 1 0.12
Uruguay 1 1 0.12
USA 1 4 3 3 2 13 1.51
There is a fundamental difference between Switzerland and other jurisdictions that permit
assisted suicide. In Belgium, the Netherlands, Oregon, and Washington, patients must request
assistance from a physician, who then evaluates the patient’s eligibility with regard to terminal
illness or unbearable suffering.[5-7] In Switzerland, it is right-to-die groups that evaluate
requests for suicide assistance in accordance with the person’s prognosis, suffering, and
disability.[1-3] Under the Swiss model, the role of physicians in suicide assistance is generally
limited to prescribing a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital. The drug is usually stored by the
right-to-die organisation. Someone from the organisation, who is normally not a doctor or nurse,
assists by preparing the drug and handing it to the patient/member to drink.
In some cases, patients who have difficulty swallowing have self-administered the drug through
a stomach tube or a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) catheter. Swiss law allows
an assistant to engage in preparatory activities such as setting up an intravenous drip, but it is
legally critical that the individual member who wishes to die must carry out the final act
independently.[1,8] Right-to-die organisations ensure that there is a witness to the final act, and
in the case of Dignitas, it is routine to provide video evidence to the police, which helps to speed
the criminal investigation.
On January 31, 2008 the medical director of the Canton of Zurich took the position that
physicians must consult with patients more than once before prescribing sodium pentobarbital.
Dignitas interpreted this as a signal that the Cantonal medical director intended to restrict suicide
assistance. It was also viewed as an obstacle to Dignitas’s foreign members, particularly those
who would delay their travel to Switzerland to a point where return trips for further medical
consultations were out of the question.
Dignitas believed that the Cantonal medical director’s position infringed on a person’s right to
self-determination and the freedom of its resident physician to prescribe sodium pentobarbital.
Therefore, Dignitas explored oxygen deprivation with helium as an alternative to an active
pharmaceutical, such as sodium pentobarbital. The application of a non-drug method would help
Dignitas establish that medical control over assisted suicide is not necessary.
Physiology of suicide and oxygen deficiency
Humans require sufficient oxygen to live. Without it, the body’s oxygen cycle will break down
and death will occur. The effects of hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) are well known (table 2);
sudden exposure to severe oxygen deficiency will result in loss of consciousness within 5 to 10
seconds and within 2 minutes permanent brain injury is probable.
Table 2 Progressive Human Response to Oxygen Deficient Atmosphere
Concentration (%) Symptoms
12 – 16 Increase breathing/heart rate; slightly disturbed
10 – 14 Emotional upset; fatigue on exertion; breathing is
disturbed; consciousness is not lost
6 - 10 Nausea; loss of free movement; possible collapse; may
be aware but unable to move or speak; may lose
> 6 Convulsive movement; gasping breaths; cessation of
respiration and heart rate
Adapted from Clayton & Clayton.
Dignitas intended to achieve oxygen deprivation by introducing near 100% of the inert gas
helium into a mask, to replace the atmospheric air that participants are normally breathing. The
composition of air is approximately 21% oxygen and 78% nitrogen, and thus the gas expired in
the first few breaths may add sufficient oxygen to the inspired mixture to delay the effects of
oxygen deficiency. To obtain the maximum advantage, the replacement of atmospheric air with
helium must occur very rapidly. Humans can “live” for several minutes while breathing very
low concentrations of oxygen, so the system must almost immediately exclude expired breath,
which normally contains about 14% oxygen.
This may be accomplished by one of two methods. One is to have a reservoir bag and mask
apparatus similar to that used in clinical anesthesia. To totally exclude expired breath, a system
of two unidirectional valves directs expired gas to the atmosphere and allows helium to fill the
reservoir bag, from which inspiration occurs. The other method is to continuously introduce into
the reservoir a steady volume of 100% helium equal to or greater than two and one half times the
subject’s normal minute volume (approximately 10 litres per minute in an average adult).
This requires a flow meter in the system. Normal minute volumes for humans can be found in
physiology texts. This continuous flow of helium acts to “air condition” the reservoir bag by
totally washing out expired gas. A critical necessity of these methods is a perfect fit of the mask
to the face so that room air will not enter the system. This is an important matter—maintaining
such a good fit often requires considerable expertise. Straps and harness are helpful, but they
add a dangerous possibility of facilitating respiratory obstruction.
The use of inert gas, such as helium, for suicide and assisted suicide is a relatively recent
trend.[13-20] Helium is non-flammable and non-toxic, and it is often chosen for suicide because
it low odor and low viscosity make it very easy to breath. This gas is also widely available,
given its applications in industry and for party balloons.
In brief, helium is used to replace oxygen. Human exposure to a 100% helium environment will
result in the sudden loss of consciousness, without warning.[11,20] Continued exposure will
result in death from anoxia within very few minutes.[11,20]
The suicide guidebook, Final Exit, did not discuss inert gas methods when it was first published
in 1991. The 2002 edition, however, offers illustrated instructions on suicide with a plastic
bag “hood” filled with helium.
This study is based on videos of 4 assisted suicides by oxygen deprivation with helium, which
occurred at Dignitas in the first quarter of 2008. Dignitas routinely provides video evidence of
assisted suicides to the the Kantonspolizei Zurich (Cantonal police), and the police return the
videos after their investigation. In this instance, the copies returned by the police contained a
technical malfunction that interfered with the playback. In April, 2008, Dignitas’s Ludwig
Minelli arranged an appointment with the police so that the principal researcher could view the
videos at the police station. At that time, the police corrected the technical error and provided
copies of the videos to Minelli and the researcher. Dignitas also provided a German language
copy of its client information sheet, the protocol for helium, and a blank copy of the client
It is important to bear in mind that the videos are used to establish that the assisted suicides are
lawful. As such, the videos are Dignitas property shared for the purpose of researching the
technical aspects of oxygen deprivation with helium. The Dignitas informed consent included
the following clause, to which its members agreed:
I hereby declare that I am prepared to assist Dignitas in assembling its own data on the
helium method, in my own interests as well as the interests of other members of Dignitas,
and am therefore prepared to take these risks to myself into account (translated from
Prior to data collection, the principal researcher submitted an ethics application to the Research
Ethics Board (REB) at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia, Canada. The REB
responded with a series of questions about privacy, anonymity, terminal illness, Swiss right-to-
die groups, and secondary use of data. The researcher appeared before the REB to explain that
the identities of persons receiving assisted suicide was not known and anonymity would be
protected. In private, the REB deliberated and decided that secondary video analysis did “not
deal with human participants and so is not appropriate for review by the REB.” Therefore, the
research was exempted from REB review.
The process of suicide by oxygen deprivation with helium
Dignitas members choosing to die from this method received training in two stages. First, they
received a document titled, “Instructions and Terms and Conditions for Informed Consent.” This
consent process explained why helium was being used instead of sodium pentobarbital, the
known effects of helium, and a caution that Dignitas had little experience with this method for
The second stage required that Dignitas members choosing to die by oxygen deprivation practice
the correct placement of a mask which covered their nose, mouth and chin, in what was called
the “working position.” With the tubing disconnected from the helium tank, the mask would
next be placed in a “preparatory position” with the elastic band positioned over the ears and
around the back of the head, and with the mask resting on the member’s forehead. The member
would practice moving the mask from the preparatory position to the working position (fig 1).
Once the mask was in the working position, the member was instructed to place his or her hands
at the sides of the body. The above process would be repeated until the Dignitas assistant was
confident that the member could carry out the steps competently.
An additional instruction was that the member should exhale deeply immediately before placing
the mask in the working position. According to Dignitas’s protocol, this would have the effect
of “clearing the lungs of all used air so that the breathing with helium functions properly.” We
believe that this forced expiration, although it may result in a deeper inhalation, would have little
or no significant effect on the process of oxygen deprivation.
The protocol required that the member confirm that she or he was confident with the process. If
not, then Dignitas would inform the member that the suicide could proceed at a later date with
sodium pentobarbital, after another physician consultation.
If the member was both confident with the process and capable of positioning the mask correctly,
the Dignitas protocol required that the assistant explain the following:
[T]he assistant must explain to the member that, when the member places the mask in the
prescribed and practiced manner over his or her own nose, mouth, and chin, and begins to
breathe helium, he or she will, after few breaths, lose consciousness. Because breathing
will continue without difficulty, the resulting oxygen deprivation will cause a breakdown
of brain function. Should this breakdown persist for longer than three minutes, the
consequence is virtually certain severe, permanent brain damage. Oxygen deprivation to
the brain results finally in death, which will occur without the conscious realization of the
member, as he or she will have long before passed out, and his or her consciousness
terminated. . . .
The informed consent process for assisted suicide by oxygen deprivation noted that
despite what had been published about the use of helium, Dignitas was inexperienced
with the method and there could be “unexpected consequences.” Members agreed that
they were willing to assume these risks and that they were “prepared to assist Dignitas in
assembling its own data on the helium method,” for the benefit of themselves and others
(translated from German).
The main attributes for observation are time to unconsciousness, breathing patterns, movements
of the extremities, eye and eyelid movements, and time to reach death.
We present 4 cases of assisted suicide using helium as an alternative to sodium pentobarbital.
Specific health information was not provided, but the decedents were 1 male and 3 females (aged
61, 73, 73, and 89). Each death took place in bed with the members resting on their backs as
shown in Figure 1. Data are summarized in table 3.
In each case, helium flow was initiated before the mask was put in the working position. Time is
recorded with 0 seconds marking the moment when the member finished placing the mask in the
Case 1 (Male)
In accordance with the Dignitas protocol, the member exhaled deeply before placing the mask in
the working position. Subsequent breathing appeared normal for about 35 seconds, and then the
breathing rate accelerated. At this point (36 seconds), the eyelids opened, the eyeballs rolled,
and the head tilted back. It is estimated that consciousness was lost approximately 36 seconds
after the face mask was in place.
At approximately 60 seconds, there were purposeless movements in the arms. The left arm
extended upward and reached about involuntarily. The right hand was held by an attendant, for
support. The attendant appeared surprised at the arm movements. Without struggle, the
attendant continued to hold the member’s right hand. Gross arm movements and fine tremors
lasted for approximately 1 minute. Eventually, both arms relaxed and the left arm rested with the
hand under the lower back.
Approximately 3 minutes after the start of the procedure, breathing appeared to stop, except for 6
gasps between 3:05 and 6:30. There were two faint breaths at 7:16 and 7:55. The helium flow
was shut off at 8:25. After the gas was stopped, there were 4 gurgled snorts at 8:38, 9:07, 9:17
Case 2 (Female)
After exhaling deeply and placing the mask in the working position, the member appeared to
breathe normally for about 50 seconds, after which the breathing rate accelerated and the eyelids
blinked rapidly. It is estimated that consciousness was lost approximately 47 seconds after the
face mask was in place. At about 58 seconds the eyelids fixed open. At 1:05 there were tremors
in the arms, arching of the back, and the head tilted back. At 1:18 the neck relaxed and 1:36 the
back-arch relaxed. At 1:37 the left arm contracted at the elbow, relaxing 15 seconds later, and
then contracting/relaxing 2 more times over the next 45 seconds. There were two more slight
movements in the left arm at 6:33 and 6:46.
At 2:14 the member exhaled deeply and this was accompanied with a moaning sound that lasted
for 12 seconds. From 2:45 through to 8:35 there were 21 short gasps, spaced apart by as few as 6
seconds and as long as 47 seconds. At 11:47 gas flow was stopped, more than 3 minutes after
the final gasp.
Case 3 (Female)
This member exhaled prior to applying the mask to her face, but she then spoke a few words,
which suggests that she may have inhaled room air before the mask was in the working position.
She spent 11 seconds adjusting the mask in the working position and approximately 3 seconds
after releasing her hand from the mask she uttered a few indistinct words. After the mask had
been in the working position for at least 26 seconds, the Dignitas attendant spoke to the member.
The member nodded affirmatively, indicating that she was conscious. At 52 seconds, the
member’s breathing rate began to accelerate and her eyelids fluttered and blinked. Loss of
consciousness is estimated to be approximately 52 seconds after the face mask was in place. At
1:06 her eyelids fixed open; her head tilted back; and her quickened breathing continued. At
1:21 the left hand clenched into a fist and at 2:33 the left arm slowly extended for 10 seconds.
During this same period the member’s lips vibrated with her exhaled breaths, implying relaxation
of facial muscles.
At 2:23 there was a contraction of the left arm; a deep exhalation at 2:30; a contraction of the left
arm at 2:50; and at 3:17 there was a big snort and extension of the left arm. At 4:03 breathing
paused and then at 4:17 there were 7 quick short breaths lasting to 4:33. At 4:48, 4:43, and 4:56
there were 3 final breaths.
Case 4 (Female)
The member exhaled prior to placing the mask in the working position and after 30 seconds she
appeared conscious. At 33 seconds she nodded “yes” to an attendant’s query whether she was
breathing. Immediately afterwards the member’s eyelids blinked rapidly. It is estimated that
consciousness was lost 55 seconds after the mask was put in place. At 1:11 her eyeballs rolled,
and there were tremors in both hands. The tremors continued to 2:06 and then the body appeared
relaxed. At 2:09 the breathing rate quickened for about 6 seconds. At 3:03 there was a slow
extension and contraction of both arms, which then relaxed at the member’s sides at 3:26.
At 3:58 breathing began to accelerate, pausing occasionally, and then accelerating again. From
5:36 to 10:12 there was intermittent moaning. During this same period the eyelids were open
and the eyeballs were moving, but without appearance of control. Between 10:13 to 38:16,
intermittent patterns of accelerated breathing, relaxed breathing, and moaning continued. During
this period a number of movements occurred: at 26:03 the head tilted back; at 30:41 the
shoulders shrugged and left arm contracted; at 34:55 the left shoulder shrugged; at 37:06 both
arms contracted for 10 seconds after which the member appeared quite inert.
At 38:16 the camera was turned off, to replace the video tape. The time elapsed for this is not
known. The duration of the second tape is 26:57. At 0:49 of part 2 the member let out a deep
gasp and the head tilted back to 0:57. At 1:31 the tongue extended slightly and withdrew. This
tongue movement continued at 15 – 20 second intervals until 3:45, after which no further signs
of life were apparent. The camera continued to run from 3:45 to 26:57, but the member appeared
The recorded time from the start of the procedure to cessation of all signs of life was
approximate 42 minutes. The actual time from start to finish is not known due to the change of
video tape. The changes in breathing patterns, moaning, and longer dying time appeared to
concern and confuse the Dignitas attendants.
Table 3 Summary of Findings
Estimated time to
loss of consciousness Intermittent, gross
Time to cessation
of breathing Terminal gasps/breaths
1 36 sec.
1 min; 2 min 3 min 3:05 – 6:30; 8
2 47 sec.
1:05; 2:37 2:45 min 2:45 – 8:35; 21
3 52 sec.
1:21; 3:17 4:03 min 4:03 – 4:56; 10
4 55 sec.
1:11; 37:16 37:16 post 38 min*; 1
* Note: a change of video tape prevents exact recording of time. Only 1 gasp is noted, but
others may have occurred in the interim of tape change
The estimated time to unconsciousness ranges from 36 to 55 seconds, which varies greatly from
the 5 to 10 seconds noted by Clayton and Clayton. Precise determination of
unconsciousness onset is not possible, but it appeared to coincide with blinking eyelids, rolling
eyeballs, and increased breathing rate. In general, arm movements were limited to uncoordinated
contractions or extensions at the elbow. Neither attendants nor members touched the mask once
it was placed in the working position. There were no attempts at self-rescue, which implies that
each member was unconscious.
While the camera was focused on the dying member, the attendants could occasionally be
observed, and they appeared anxious about the process. One attendant later stated that the
sudden change in skin colour (cyanosis), and wide open eyelids were unexpected, because, with
sodium pentobarbital the loss of consciousness is slower and the eyelids tend to remain closed.
The time to death in Cases 1 - 3 was approximately 5 to 10 minutes, and in Case 4 it was over 40
minutes. In Case 4, it is probable that sufficient oxygen was leaking into the breathing system to
sustain breathing and heart function.
Though each member followed the same breathing protocol, variances in breathing patterns and
total time to death can be attributed to health differences, variable rebreathing, inspiratory leaks,
and dilution of the inhaled mixture with room air (which would include 21% oxygen). While
health information and flow rate data are unavailable, the video image reveals variances in the fit
of the mask. Gaps noted between face and mask would have allowed room air to enter into the
breathing environment, thereby extending the time to unconsciousness and the time to death.
Even if the Dignitas attendants were trained to recognize a poor mask fit, they probably could
not make adjustments without running afoul of the law. This is because Swiss law requires the
dying individual to perform the final act, and a third party intervention to adjust the mask would
probably constitute an offense.
We conclude that much of the variability in time to unconsciousness and death can be attributed
to differences in the mask fit. A hood method could reduce the problems of fit. The fit at the
collar must be loose enough to serve as an exhaust port, but tight enough to ensure that the flow
of gas will maintain inflation of the hood.
In these 4 cases, oxygen deprivation by breathing helium through a mask proved lethal.
Nevertheless, we believe a mask breathing apparatus is problematic because it is very difficult to
achieve and maintain a gas tight seal between the face and the mask. Even if the initial mask fit
is gas tight, subsequent involuntary movements of the head, neck, and facial muscles are likely to
spoil the fit. In anesthesia, it is well known that achieving a continual airtight fit is technically
difficult. Even tiny leaks may substantially allow ingress of oxygen into the breathing
environment. By enhancing the video images, gaps are visible around the nose bridge and
under the chin, thus room air could easily prevent an oxygen free environment. Gaps of some
degree may well have been present in all four cases.
The inspired concentration of air, and therefore oxygen, will be determined by the relative
amounts of added helium and expired gas. To completely replace expired air, and thus insure the
highest possible concentration of helium, the flow rate of added gas (helium), has been
determined to be a volume of at least two and one half times the subject’s minute volume.
This would be true with either the bag and mask as used by Dignitas, or with the use of a large
hood. This flow rate would require tubing of an adequate internal diameter to deliver helium
from the tank to the inhalation system.
Final Exit offers detailed information about using a plastic bag hood and helium for suicide.
For aesthetic reasons, Dignitas chose a mask instead of a hood. A hood, however, may be easier
to manage than any mask that we know. The elastic collar on a hood provides an exhaust port.
Sudden exposure to a completely oxygen deficient environment should result in loss of
consciousness within 5 to 10 seconds. Given the visibly poor mask fit, and that the
estimated time to unconsciousness ranged between 36 and 55 seconds, it is probable that the
breathing environment was not completely oxygen deficient. In two case reports of sudden
exposure to a helium environment inside a hood, Ogden reported loss of consciousness within
Assistance with suicide is not necessarily a medical procedure and these cases of oxygen
deprivation show that the prescribing role of physicians and the use of drugs can be bypassed.
Ziegler recently noted that Swiss model of assisted suicide has significant potential to inform the
debate over the right-to-die, and that it “could also help demedicalize the way that we die.”
The transparency of the Swiss model and the boldness of organisations like Dignitas provide
unique opportunities to shed light upon otherwise hidden behaviours. Switzerland is probably
unique in that its right-to-die organisations can account for nearly 5% of all suicides. Given
the nature of Swiss law and the good faith transparency and accountability of right-to-die groups
in that country, the Swiss model offers unique opportunities for observation and measurement of
a phenomenon that cries out for empirical inquiry and understanding.
Mask in “working position.” Mask is similar to type used by Dignitas for breathing helium
(photo R. D. Ogden).
“Exit-bag” hood. Apparatus is similar to that described in Final Exit (photo R. D. Ogden)
The authors thank Cecilia Martell for assistance with translation.
1. Bosshard G. Switzerland. In Griffiths J, Weyers H, Adams M, eds. Euthanasia and law in
Europe. Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2008:463-82.
2. Ziegler SJ. Collaborated death: an exploration of the Swiss model of assisted suicide for its
potential to enhance oversight and demedicalize the dying process. J Law Med Ethics
3. Ziegler SJ, Bosshard, G. Role of non-governmental organisations in physician assisted
suicide. BMJ 2007;334:295-298.
4. Zaritsky J. (Director) The suicide tourist (documentary). Toronto: CTV, 2007.
5. Griffiths J, Weyers H, Adams M. Euthanasia and law in Europe. Oxford: Hart Publishing.
6. Oregon Death with Dignity Act. Or. Rev. Stat. 1995 §§127.800-127.995. Available at:
http://oregon.gov/DHS/ph/pas/docs/statute.pdf Accessed October 12, 2009.
7. Washington Death with Dignity Act. Chapter 70.245 RCW. 2009. Available at
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=70.245. Accessed October 12, 2009.
8. Bosshard G, Jermini D, Eisenhart, D, Bär W. Assisted suicide bordering on active
euthanasia. Int J Legal Med 2003;117:106-8.
9. von Strehle R. Der todeskämpher. Das Magazin. June 20, 2008. Available at:
http://dasmagazin.ch/index.php/der-todeskampfer/. Accessed October 12, 2009.
10. Nuland SB. How we die: reflections on life’s final chapter. New York: Vintage. 1993.
11. Clayton GD, Clayton FE. Patty’s industrial hygiene and toxicology (Vol II Part F). New
York: Wiley & Sons. 4th ed. 1994.
12. Hamilton WK, Eastwood DW. A study of denitrogenation with some inhalation anesthetic
systems. Anesthesiology 1955;16:861-7.
13. Ogden RD, Wooten RH. Asphyxial suicide with helium and a plastic bag. Am J Forensic
Med Pathol 2002;23:234-7.
14. Gallagher KE, Smith DM, Mellen PF. Suicidal asphyxiation by using pure helium gas: case
report, review and discussion of the influence of the Internet. Am J Forensic Med Pathol
15. Gilson T, Parks BO, Porterfield CM. Suicide with inert gases: addendum to Final Exit. Am J
Forensic Med Pathol 2003;24:306-8.
16. Barnung SK, Feddersen C. Selvmord ved hjælp af helium og en plastikpose (Suicide by
inhaling helium inside a plastic bag). Ugeskr Laeger 2004;166:3506-7.
17. Schön CA, Ketterer T. Asphyxial suicide by inhalation of helium inside a plastic bag. Am J
Forensic Med Pathol 2007;28:364-7.
18. Grassberger M, Krauskopf A. Suicidal asphyxiation with helium: report of three cases.
Wein Klin Wochenschr 2007;119/9-10:323-5.
19. Auwäerter V, Perdekamp M, Kempf J, Schmidt U, Weinmann W, Pollak S. Toxicological
analysis after asphyxial suicide with helium and a plastic bag. Forensic Sci Int 2007;170:139-
20. Ogden RD. Observation of two suicides by helium inhalation in a pre-filled environment.
Am J Forensic Med Pathol [in press].
21. Praxair Canada Material Data Safety Sheet (Helium). E-4602-J. 2007. Available at
m-Canada-2007.pdf Accessed October 12, 2009.
22. Humphry D. Final Exit: the practicalities of self-deliverance and assisted suicide for the
dying. Eugene, OR: Hemlock Society. 1st ed. 1991.
23. Humphry D. Final Exit: the practicalities of self-deliverance and assisted suicide for the
dying. New York: Delta. 3rd ed. 2002.
24. Bosshard G, Ulrich E, Bär W. 748 cases of suicide assisted by a Swiss right-to-die
organisation. Swiss Med Wkly 2003;133:310-317.