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Canadian euthanasia pioneer choose to die in Switzerland

The founder of Right to Die Society of Canada, John Hofsess, died on Monday. John died on February 29, 2016, as planned, in Basel, Switzerland. At age 78, he had been diagnosed with two terminal illnesses and an unstable heart. Prior to his death, John wrote a long article about his career published on 1 March 2016 in Toronto Life magazine

Michael Irwin, MD, Surrey, England wrote about his passing in ERGO’s Newslist: “His physician-assisted suicide was a very dignified event. John was so determined to die and he was so relaxed about this. In his final moments, he was listening to Paul Robeson singing Old Man River, and he swallowed some ice cream (his favourite dessert). In fact, even on his last day, he was still editing a Farewell Note which will appear in the next issue of Humanist Perspectives, a quarterly Canadian journal.

In this, although he was very proud of being a founder of NuTech, John writes about his opposition to do-it-yourself suicide guides which can be easily sold to anyone of any age – and, he stresses that he had never found a single person who, given the free choice between a solitary, do-it-yourself suicide and a compassionately assisted death in the experienced company of others, would chose the former. He also regarded the Oregon Death with Dignity Act as a primitive method, as the law does not provide any support during the dying process. John wanted to set an example by dying legally, with professional assistance, in the presence of some close friends.

He will be greatly missed.