Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society, has written yet another book on death. It is called The Final Exit, and is one more formula for “self deliverance” – suicide being too blunt a word to use too freely.
Humphry’s preoccupation with death, equaled only by his preoccupation with the Catholic Church, is well known. His first book Jean’s Way is an account of his assistance in the death of his first wife. Let Me Die Before I Wake, his second effort, deals with suicide.
The Final Exit explores new horizons. Lethal doses of certain drugs, together with behaviour patterns to avoid, are spelled out for the reader. For example, it is not a good idea to disconnect one’s answering machine or leave your phone off the hook. It may alert family and friends.
While the publishing world has amassed a fortune from the “How To” books, which are sold in book stores and hardware stores across North America, the intrusion of a “How to commit suicide” manual has caused more than mild controversy.
An unarmed official from Canadian Customs promised to have the book stopped from entry via the U.S. However, a staff member from The World’s Largest Book Store, owned by Coles, told Vitality that the paperback version, which sells for $24, has been sold out and another shipment is expected.
Ann, Humphry’s second wife and co-founder of Hemlock, who underwent treatment for breast cancer is reported as having filed a six million dollar law suit against her husband, charging that “his actions against her were calculated to exploit her weakened condition and induce her to despair and suicide.”
She said, “Ironically, through my own experience, I have come to understand the arguments of those opposed to euthanasia.”
She went on to question the philosophy of the Right to Doe movement, stating “There has been so much emphasis on dying when you have a life-threatening illness, that measures such as providing a supportive environment are overlooked.”
A former president of Hemlock-Oregon, Henry Brod, has also expressed disillusionment with the pro-death movement, saying that he was going to open a “bed and breakfast” in Eugene, Oregon.” I’m glad to get away from death and dying issues. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life selling death.”
It is not certain whether or not Derek Humphry has disclosed his profit margin from the sale of his books. What is certain is that those most vulnerable – young people in despair, the old who feel unwanted, and the terminally ill, beset by fear are being manipulated by the death entrepreneurs.