Euthanasia Advocate Writes International Suicide Guide Book

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Euthanasia Advocate Writes International Suicide Guide Book

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
June 2, 2004

Eugene, OR ( — A man who allegedly killed one wife and drove another to commit suicide is hoping to turn his knowledge of euthanasia into a bestseller.

Euthanasia campaigner Derek Humphry is the author of a chilling new book entitled, "Good Euthanasia Guide 2004." Humphry hopes to update the handbook every year.

The guide lists details of countries that permit euthanasia, along with organizations that can assist in the process.

According to published reports in Great Britain, the former Sunday Times journalist said recently, "I was in a pub and I was looking at their bookshelf, which had The Good Food Guide, the Good Hotel Guide, and the Good Pub Guide on it, and I suddenly had a flash, so I got cracking on it."

Humphry, the founder of the pro-euthanasia Hemlock Society, added that the guides are "all staples of reference literature to help make our lives more congenial. Just as surely as we need to eat, sleep and drink right, it is also certain that we will one day die. So why not some advanced research to get that right, too?"

Humphry is president of the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (ERGO) and is editor of the "World Right-to-Die Newsletter."

While his latest book is not a "how-to" manual, it does catalog the countries and organizations that will aid an individual who wants to end his or her life.

In the foreward of his book, Humphry writes, "Don’t bother to acquire this book if you are a person who believes that a religious deity is in sole charge of your life and dying." He says his aim is "to ensure that the final episode of a person’s life is carried out with dignity, compassion and self-control."

But pro-life activists note that, in cases involving euthanasia, it is often family members or euthanasia campaigners who are in control — not the individual who dies.

In her 1993 book Deadly Compassion, ethics expert Rita Marker noted that Humphry’s former wife, Ann, was apparently driven to commit suicide by Humphry himself, who left her after she was diagnosed with cancer.

Ann wrote a suicide letter in which she told Derek, "What you did — desertion and abandonment and subsequent harassment of a dying woman — is so unspeakable there are no words to describe the horror of it."

In a handwritten note to Marker that had been added to the suicide letter, Ann wrote: "He (Derek) is a killer. I know. Jean (his previous wife) died of suffocation. I could never say it until now; who would believe me?"

Humphry had told Ann that Jean wanted to die, but, later, Ann questioned his account.

According to Deadly Compassion, Ann once said, "I will always find myself wondering what Jean would say if she could speak. I suspect it would be rather chilling."

Humphry has been campaigning for euthanasia for decades. He successfully made it onto the bestseller list with a book called Final Exit, which brought the concept of "mercy killing" to the masses. Final Exit spent 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1991. The book contains chapters on such topics as self-starvation and bizarre ways to die.

Humphry and Ann co-wrote the book Jean’s Way, in which Humphry portrayed himself as the caring husband who stood by his wife during her breast cancer and ultimate death.

Later, Ann revealed that the book seemed to be Derek’s attempt to legitimize murder.

His new guidebook includes information about organizations in 22 countries, from Australia to Zimbabwe.

It also contains details of how Oregon’s assisted suicide law has led to the deaths of dozens of people. From 1998 to 2003, 171 people used the law for assisted suicide. Their average age was 69 and 53 percent of them were men.

Humphrey is now based in Eugene, Oregon, the hub of the American pro-euthanasia movement.

Pro-life leaders note that, while there would be an outcry if a serial killer offered a handbook for homicide, the Humphry book is readily available, not only on the website but also through the Amazon book-selling site.

For a list price of twelve dollars, Humphry promises to provide the "Where, What, and Who in Choices in Dying."

However, rather than marketing compassion, Humphry appears to be trying to sell the world on the idea of killing as a form of "deliverance."

As euthanasia opponent Rita Marker noted in her book, there is an "innate human dignity invested in each and every human being. Killing is a destructive answer; caring never is."

Related web sites:
International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide –