Non-Violent Ways To End Life

Written by on October 5, 2014 in Blog

Hemlock.  Self-final-exodus-blogStrangulation.  Carbon monoxide.  Cyanide. Plastic Bag with Sedative. These are just some of the non-violent ways people have sought an end to their lives.

They have all been found deficient compared to the three methods most experts in the right-to-die movement prefer,  stopping eating and drinking (SED), helium (Hi) and certain prescription drugs (Rx).  I blogged on these three this summer (June 23, July 12, August 23, 29).

ALL non-violent methods have been mentioned in the literature of the right-to-die movement.   The book that contains the most information is Chris Docker’s Five Last Acts – The Exit Path: The Arts and Science of Rational Suicide in the Face of Unbearable, Unrelievable Suffering.  Docker even includes some of the violent methods, such as hanging, wrist-cutting, jumping and drowning.

Two other books also mention additional methods, The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Nitschke and Stewart, and A Way to Die, Methods for a Self-Chosen and Humane Death by Boudewijn Chabot.   All three are available on Amazon.  And there are others.

All methods of self-deliverance have problems, viz., risks that need to be addressed and unavoidable side-effects that make the method less desirable.

At the September conference of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies in Chicago some of the others were discussed.  Two methods in particular caught my attention, the compression and the plastic bag/sedation methods.  Some experts see them as good, or nearly as good, as the three primary methods, SED, Hi and Rx.  Docker’s “five last acts” adds these two to the primary three.    Others think these two methods need to be abandoned.

The Compression Method or, in inaccurate layman’s terms, self-strangulation.  This one really caught me by surprise, as I had never taken it seriously. But apparently it is used widely and successfully used in Scotland, where Chris Docker resides.  All one needs is (1) a cloth, leather or plastic ribbon long enough to go around the neck plus some more for twisting, and (2) a wooden stick or spoon or similar object with which to do the twisting.  And I should add, a lot of self-will and fortitude.  Lack of blood to the brain causes death, not suffocation (the compression occurs above the Adam’s apple (wind-pipe).  One of the critics of this method is Chabot, in his Right to Die book.  He points out that some arteries in the neck can’t be compressed.  Another problem is, if the windpipe is compressed as well as the arteries then there will be unpleasant suffocation, which could well lead to failure, and perhaps some brain or other bodily injury.

The Plastic Bag with Sedation Method.   One take sleeping pills, then places a plastic bag over his or her head, with rubber bands around the neck to make the bag air tight.   A thumb is used to keep the bag open until sleep occurs.  Death occurs in about 30 minutes.   Derek Humphry in his famous book, Final Exit, The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying (available at Amazon), calls the method “foolproof.”  However Chabot says of the six cases he investigated, four failed.   Failures can be people who don’t get into deep sleep and try to tear the bag off.  That can lead to someone watching, such as a family member, trying to keep the bag in place, exposing him or her to prosecution for assisting suicide.  Others than Chabot have criticized this method as well.

Let me conclude by stating my position on all this.  First, I do not recommend any particular course of action for any very ill person facing death.  I do believe everyone should know that they have options, which are:

  • keep me alive as long as possible
  • let me die a natural death  (no resuscitation, no more curative treatment)
  • refusing forced feeding and hydration, and
  • choosing to hasten death by any one of several methods, as discussed above.

Of the many methods available, only three are supported by most experts, SED, Hi, and Rx.   These experts will argue among themselves which is best, but it is really a matter of your personal choice.



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  1. Sally says:

    Please can you confirm the information about using chloroquine is still the same or have the tablets been changed , info I have is from book written 2007 thank you



    • says:

      Suggest you talk to your closest friend about your reasons. Talking often clarifies thinking.

      • Blah says:

        I have no friends

        • says:

          That is a pity. I have no suggestions other than friends are important.

        • Pilgrim says:

          Six months later, is life getting better? I would enjoy undestansing your current thoughts.

        • Nick says:

          Go to Reddit!! there is even a sanctioned suicide page and it is helpful just to vent there and have people wish you good luck and a peaceful passing as well as advise on what ever method you prefer. There is also the depression page. No worries you are safe their at least from people reporting you and no one there is going to give you hotline numbers 🙂

  3. Kiara says:

    Hello! I wonder if you could give me our opinion- I tried to kill myself using the compression method but I just can’t get it to work the right way as it either too loose and nothing happens or too thigh and I can’t breathe (+ it’s painful). Do you, by any chance, know how you have to do it right, how to tie it etc. I have read 5 Last Acts as well as Derek Humphry’s Final Exit but neither of them provides a useful explanation on this.

    • says:

      I have no information to add to that in Docker’s 5 Last Acts. Many in the right-to-die movement don’t recommend compression. Bill

    • Eddie nevarez says:

      I suffer pain very day and I am tired of hurting I really want to stop the pain

    • Leah says:

      Me too!
      I have literally exhausted myself from all the various ways I’ve tried to use the “auto asphyxiation” method- but NONE worked!
      I then bought a helium tank and set up the plastic bag/tubing…..only to wake up hours later (super disoriented- a total mess) because there was a leak…
      So now I am back to the hanging method and determined to make it work…I’d LOVE an “end of life” buddy to share the last day with- to help each other make it “work”

  4. voyager says:

    How long do I have to go without a drop of food or water, so that I am dead?

    • says:

      How long? Depends on several factors, the main one being how ill you are when you start. Your body reserves of energy is another.
      So, it can be as short as a few days, or as long as 18 days. Bill

  5. Mandy John says:

    If you stop eating you will have dioreah and vomiting, if you stop drinking yo will sleep and eventually slip into a coma and die.