- No doctor need be involved.
- There need be no terminal medical condition.
Among the services it provides for its members is procuring the necessary medication (a lethal, fast-acting and painless barbiturate that is dissolved in drinking water). Each assisted suicide requires a Swiss doctor's prescription. For foreigners and Swiss who don't have their own doctor, Dignitas uses cooperating doctors.
After an in-depth evaluation of the member's written request -- and at least two face-to-face meetings between doctor and patient -- the doctor, if satisfied that the patient meets the conditions, issues the prescription to Dignitas. The member then arranges the time and place with Dignitas. At least two people must be present at the suicide as witnesses. Dignitas emphasizes the importance of involving friends and family in the process.
Most Members Decline the Offer
Dignitas reports that only a few of its members take advantage of the assisted-suicide service. They usually end up feeling sufficiently reassured by their instructions that no life-prolonging measures should be initiated, and that any life-threatening situation should lead to a natural death.
In a hopeless situation, the member feels comforted knowing he can say, "I've had enough now. I want to die."