November saw Dignitas go mobile with two of its German clients committing suicide in a public car park.


Earlier this year, the controversial Swiss assisted dying organisation was evicted from its base in a Zurich residential block. Its subsequent search for a new home was unsuccessful. Other communities in the Zurich region protested against the 'dying rooms' moving into their areas; the Association of Zurich Hoteliers stepped in to halt their hotel rooms being used for suicides; and local authorities refused to allow Dignitas back into its former premises on an industrial estate when its lease expired in September.

A dignified move?

Dignitas - whose motto is Dignity in life, Dignity in death - for a fee assists people from around the world to die in Switzerland. Last year around 200 people, including several Britons, passed through its dying rooms.

Dignitas' founder, controversial lawyer Ludwig Minelli, cited overwhelming demand for its services as the reason for using car parks: 'People who want to die find themselves in a situation where they cannot wait until the stand-off with officials is sorted out'. Yet anti-assisted dying campaigners would point out that dying in a car in a public car park is a rejection of Dignitas' own motto. Local politician and president of Zurich's Lighthouse Hospice, Hans-Peter Portmann put it succinctly: 'Human dignity is being trampled on'.

In the wake of such controversial actions and the increasing suicide tourist trade, the Swiss government plans to review its liberal assisted dying legislation.