The end-of-life Centres
“You have to be a member but you can join shortly beforehand”
There is a myth, frequently believed, that if you wake up one morning feeling miserable about life, you can buy a one-way ticket to Switzerland and someone at a clinic in Zurich will put you to sleep before the end of the day.
That is not how it works.
There have, however, been instances of people knocking on the door of Dignitas and expecting just such a service. All of these people have been sent back home right away.
Each of the three centres visited provides its services only to people who have become paid-up members or, in the case of Pegasos, “supporters”. Subscriptions are charged annually and are paid by electronic transfer direct to the centres’ bank accounts in Switzerland. The level of the subscriptions varies according to the currency exchange rates. They should be expected to rise in line with inflation, although the Dignitas joining fee of 200 CHD and yearly subscription fee of 60 CHD have remained unchanged since 2008. For 2021/22 the sterling costs of membership were as follows :
Is it possible to join one of the centres at the same time as making an application to use its end-of-life services ? Yes, is the answer. And some people do. However, there is a considerable advantage to having joined as a member when the possibility first entered your head. At the very least, this indicates that you have a serious and settled intent to exercise control over the manner and place of your own death.
STOP PRESS. LIFECIRCLE IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING NEW MEMBERS. Anyone who had joined before 31st October 2022 will be able to continue in membership and can expect the full range of services as usual. For everyone else, it is now too late.
Lifecircle is particularly keen that its members should complete its “Living Will and additional personal statement” form. This runs to six pages but is well worth completing. It gives detailed instructions about such things as resuscitation and “artificial nutrition”. There is a section headed “Here I note my reasons for signing a living will” and another “The sufferings and conditions described here would make life unbearable for me”. Obviously, this form is not for the exclusive use of Lifecircle itself and can provide useful evidence of your state of mind at the time you sign it. At Dignitas, the Living Will form is sent to you automatically after you have signed up.
Speaking personally, I am a member of all three, having joined Dignitas in 2015, Lifecircle in 2018 and Pegasos in 2021.
HOW TO JOIN
You can’t join until you’re over eighteen. Otherwise, there are no pre-conditions. Anyone can join. You do not need to be nominated or seconded. There is no interview. You just send off your Application Form and then pay the subscription invoice when it arrives.
Becoming a member is straightforward. In the case of DIGNITAS, you need to contact them through their website and ask them for a copy of their “Declaration of Membership” form. Their website, incidentally, says that such a form is attached to their “Brochure of Dignitas” web page, but it isn’t. The Declaration itself is a simple document but must be completed in writing, in block capitals. In return you will receive an acceptance of your application, an invoice for the joining fee (currently 200 CHF) and an instructions form for further completion.
It is even simpler to become a Supporter of PEGASOS. You complete the online application at https://pegasos-association.com/join/ and send them €100.
For LIFECIRCLE, membership is easy enough but they are also very keen that you should complete and sign their “living will”. It is not absolutely necessary for this to be done but it certainly seems a sensible way to make your future intentions clear. firstname.lastname@example.org.Read Next Section >