Dignified Dying – A Guide
Two films were made on the subject of dignified dying by Boudewijn Chabot.
Here you can find trailers and more information on both films, Eyewitnesses and The Helium Method.
This film discusses pros and cons of three effective ways of directing one’s own death in the presence of the family or friends. It consists of several accounts of people who witnessed how a dear relative took control of his or her own humane death. Each account deals with one of the three humane methods:
Annemarie discusses pro and con of the three methods.
Els experienced how her aunt, suffering from heart and lung failure, finally chose for the helium method to avoid suffocating.
Karin tells us about her father, a Parkinson patient, who died by stopping eating and drinking with palliative care. All three told the coroner what help they had given and were not prosecuted.
Jaap relates why he provided a physician-assisted death to a patient with Alzheimer dementia.
Widow Nel relates how she ordered pentobarbital on the internet for her husband who had vascular dementia, and stayed with him as he drank it.
Inert gases: helium or nitrogen
The helium method
From April 2015 helium some companies will dilute helium cylinders with 20% air. This may, perhaps, be enough to lose consciousness but death may follow after many hours, or not at all. The dilution, if any, must be indicated on the tanks.
The nitrogen method
Some have proposed that helium can be replaced by nitrogen gas. Pure nitrogen is used in welding and can be acquired in welding shops or online from welding companies. One needs two full 20 ft3 tank (one for practice like with helium) the other for the final implementation. An inert gas flow regulator is indispensable which is not necessary with helium.
Though it may be likely that inhaling pure nitrogen gas causes death it has not yet been established that death comes as quickly as with helium gas. With helium there is evidence on video and from professional observers who have witnessed helium deaths. The substitution of helium by nitrogen gas for a quick and painless death is in need of observational reports and video recording.
For modifications when using nitrogen instead of helium, see Chapter 3 in Dignified Dying – a Guide.