Netherlands

‘Suicide powder’ Substance X is not illegal, but it is provided

According to the Public Prosecution Service, possibly hundreds of people bought the ‘suicide powder’ Middel X from Alex S., who appeared in court today. The case is therefore much larger than previously assumed. Five questions about Middle X.

What is Medium X?

Agent X is a preservative that is available from chemical wholesalers, among others. It came to the fore when the Last Will Cooperative (CLW) talked about the existence of the powder. The organization has been committed to self-determination around the deathbed since 2013 and states that the powder leads to a humane death.

The real name of the powder is kept secret by Coƶperatie Laatste Wil, because only a small dose is needed for suicide. According to the organization, disclosing the exact name could lead to people buying large quantities and leftovers being thrown away or left lying around. That could be a health hazard for others.

How often is it used?

It is difficult to determine to what extent the drug is bought and used. But it is clear that interest has increased since 2017, notes toxicologist Antoinette van Riel of the National Poisons Information Center (NVIC) of UMC Utrecht. “Before 2018, we received only a few reports per year. After media attention for suicide powders in 2017, suicide attempts are more often reported with two substances. Now we receive several dozen reports per year.”

According to the toxicologist, Means X is actually used more often. “We are called in when help is available and the patient is still alive, almost not if the person is already dead.”

Why has the drug been in the news a lot lately?

So drug X is fairly easy to get, especially abroad. But it is punishable to supply it if the buyer’s intention is to end life with it. Several people have recently been arrested for supplying the drug.

One of them, Alex S., appeared in court for the first time today. “I believe that everyone should be allowed to decide what someone can do with their own body,” he said there. “We don’t belong to anyone else, we get to decide our own destiny.”

That is more or less the position of the Last Will Cooperative, of which S. is a member. The cooperative is in favor of a legal means with which people can end their lives, but is against the illegal provision of this.

One of the other arrested members is psychologist Wim van Dijk. He went public after his arrest and stated that he had given the drug to more than a hundred people. “I want the social unrest to become so great that the judiciary cannot ignore this,” he said in the Volkskrant last weekend. “Civil disobedience is a lawful means to a legitimate end.”

Is the drug indeed humane?

CLW states that Agent X leads to a humane death, but there are doubts about that claim. The NVIC reports that patients become seriously ill prior to death and some doctors also express their concerns. According to the NVIC, symptoms are mainly vomiting, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, sweating, confusion, lowered blood pressure and heart complaints.

Another major point of criticism is that young people can take the drug and that they can get it relatively easily.

What does the law say?

If someone provides Drug X to a person who commits suicide with it, this person risks a prison sentence of three years.

In September, outgoing minister De Jonge (Public Health) said in response to parliamentary questions that it is “undesirable” that the suicide powder is in circulation. He argues that the cabinet has therefore raised a threshold for the availability of these substances for private individuals. For example, in 2019 an agreement was concluded between Public Health and the Association of the Dutch Chemical Industry. They agreed to monitor the sale of these substances to private individuals.

To ban Middel X, the law must be amended. De Jonge says that this could actually have the opposite effect. For example, he says that “legal measures give publicity to substances”. He also says that it is impossible to draw up an “exhaustive list” of all substances that can be used for suicide.

‘Suicide powder’ Substance X is not illegal, but it is provided
Source link ‘Suicide powder’ Substance X is not illegal, but it is provided

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