Important Phone Numbers
- Suicide Hotline for San Diego (available 7/24): (800) 479-3339
- Suicide Hotline for entire U.S. (available 7/24): (800) 784-2433 or (800) 273-8255
- Suicide Hotline Website: http://suicidehotlines.com
- Friendship Line – for people 60 years and older. A crisis intervention hotline and a warmline for non-emergency emotional support calls: 800-971-0016.
Plan and Prepare
- The Conversation Project – helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.
- 6-Steps Living Will
- The Choice Model – Know your options – share your choice.
- Go Wish-Playing cards designed to help you find words to talk about what is important
- POLST – Must be signed by a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Different states have different names for this form.
- Medical Alert Jewelry, DNR & POLST: The most accurate form of identification for patients outside of licensed facilities is a medallion or bracelet worn by the patient. There are only three (3) Approved Medallion Providers for the State of California:
–Sticky J Medical ID
- Creating your Life File: NOT end of life choices., but a nice checklist for getting your affairs in order,
- Eprognosis – Online tool for doctor use to estimate patient prognosis. Also has a calculator to see if cancer screening should be done. Info about ePrognosis tool.
- Hemlock Society of San Diego: (619) 233-4418. Proud members of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies
- The World Right-To-Die News Service – originally created and managed by Derek Humphry, author of the best-selling book Final Exit. Sign up here to receive automatic email updates about right-to-die issues
- Final Exit Network (FEN): (866) 654-9156. Here is an important article by a FEN coordinator that explains the process and limitations of the Final Exit Network.
- End of Life Choices California (760) 636-8009. Their volunteers can help navigate CA’s End of Life Option Act, advocate for pain and symptom management, meet with families to help them understand or complete advance directives.
- American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying. A non-membership organization, freely open to all clinicians and interested parties. They research, establish and inform best clinical practices for medical aid in dying. They also provide a Patient-to-Doctor Referral System to connect eligible patients with physicians who participate in medical aid in dying when appropriate.
- (Private) Medical Group specializing in end of life care, Integrated MD Care (Dr. Bob Uslander)
- Death with Dignity National Center
- The Exit Euthanasia Blog (Scotland)
- Dignitas: +41 43 366 10 70
- San Diego Coalition for Improving End-of-Life Care
- New York End of Life Choices
- Death Cafe – worldwide organization with Cafe meet ups in the San Diego area.
- Sharp HospiceCare Bereavement and Support Groups
- The Elizabeth Hospice: Center for Compassionate Care Counseling Services
- Vitas Healthcare Bereavement and Grief Resources
Strategies for Avoiding Advanced Dementia- Hemlock Meeting Nov. 18, 2018
- Clinicians May Not Administer Life-Saving Medical Treatment Without Consent
- Advance Directive for Dementia from End of Life Choices New York
Books on Dying
For Those Who Haven’t Given Dying Much Thought:
- The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die (2021) – by Katie Engelhart. “The suffering and distress of selected persons with painful and distressing illnesses who are looking for a quick, non-violent end is told in deep, thoughtful stories. And compassionate. We need to know exactly how it is for some.” -Derek Humphry
- Knocking on Heaven’s Door (2013) – by Katy Butler – Heart-breaking memoir of her father’s long decline and inevitable death.
- Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life (2017) – by Jessica Zitter, MD
- Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (2017) – by Atul Gawande, MD, MPH
- Finding Your Way to Say Goodbye, Comfort for the Dying and Those Who Care for Them, by Harold Ivan Smith (2002). From dealing with the medical staff to talking with family and friends who are in denial, this book is an ideal companion.
For Those Seeking Specific Solutions:
- Final Exit 2020 (2020) Digital – by Derek Humphry
- The Peaceful Pill Handbook (Constantly updated, digital and hardback editions) – by Drs. Philip Nitschke and Fiona Stewart
- Five Last Acts: The arts and science of rational suicide in the face of unbearable, unrelievable suffering, 2nd Edition – (2015) – by Chris Docker
- The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide (2019) – by Katy Butler
- Finish Strong: Putting YOUR Priorities First at Life’s End (2018) – by Bartbara Coombs Lee, a nurse, physician assistant and attorney. Offers practical advice on how to stay off the overtreatment conveyor belt.
- That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour (2020) – by Sunita Puri on palliatve care A short review of That Good Night.
- VSED: Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking: A Compassionate, Widely Available Option for Hastening Death. (2021) – Edited by Timothy E. Quill, Paul T. Menzel, Thaddeus Pope, and Judith K. Schwarz
- Stopping Eating and Drinking, a Guide (2015) – by Boudewijn Chabot, MD, PhD
- Despedirse de la vida ayunando — Una guía (2017) – Spanish version of Stopping Eating and Drinking by Boudewijn Chabot, MD, PhD
The Unique Problem of Dementia:
- O, Let Me Not Get Alzheimer’s Sweet Heaven!: Why many people prefer death or active deliverance to living with dementia (2020) – by Colin Brewer. A review of dementia and criticism of organized religions that frustrate efforts to bring in legislation in the UK that allows voluntary assisted dying to take place.
- Choosing to Die, a Personal Story, by Phyllis Shacter. A wife’s view of what it was like to experience Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED), which her husband chose to end his life after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
- Still Alice (2007) – A novel by Lisa Genova, Ph. D. (Harvard). This neuroscientist/author crafts a realistic portrait of a fictional 50-year old woman diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.
- Dying to Die: The Janet Adkins Story. (2019) – by Susan Clevenger. The first, and only person with Alzheimer’s to end her life with the help of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. The story is told by Ron Adkins and the family and friends who were left behind.
Early Seminal Works:
- Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying (1991) – by Derek Humphry. Currently in the third edition, this book was has been translated into 12 languages. It is the classic do-it-yourself book written by the visionary founder of the Hemlock Society USA.
- How We Die, Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter (1993) – by Sherwin B. Nuland, MD. A National Non-Fiction Book Award Winner 1994 and finalist for the Pultizer Prize in 1995. The book describes the physical deterioration that occurs with common causes of death such as heart attack, cancer and the resistance that doctors, patients and family members have about discussing death honestly and openly.
- On Death and Dying (1969) – by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD. Describes the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
- Ending Life: Ethics and the Way we Die (2005) – by Margaret Pabst Battin. A philosophical discussion of bioethics issues in the field of death. In 2008 Battin’s husband became quadriplegic after a bicycle accident, which caused her to refine and augment her thinking about assisted dying. She became aware of a type of opposite, more subtle, kind of coercion — not the influence of a greedy relative or a cost-conscious state that wants [the patient] to die, but pressure from a much-loved spouse or partner who wants [the patient] to live. Peggy’s husband died in 2013 after he requested to turn off his life support.
History of the Right-to-Die Movement:
- A Dignified Ending: Taking Control Over How We Die (2019) – by Lewis M. Cohen, MD – history of the right to die movement and interviews with those who took control
- In Search of Gentle Death The Right for Your Right to Die with Dignity (2012) – by Richard N. Cote. Includes interviews with leaders in the right-to-die movement, including Derek Humphrey, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Dr. Rodney Syme, Dr. Richard McDonald, and many others.
- The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die
- Pride & Dignity (2020) – by Alastair Neil A fictional account of the disagreement between father and son when the father seeks to die in a Swiss clinic. View an interview with the author of this book.
- Boomsday (2008) – by Christopher Buckley. A hilarious novel. A blogger, outraged over mounting Social Security debt, suggests that Baby Boomers be given government incentives to kill themselves by age 75.
- Cruel Death, Heartless Aftermath: My Family’s End-of-Life Nightmare and How To Avoid It (2019) – by Barbara Mancini. Her father did it all correctly. He made his advance directive, discussed it with family, repeatedly expressed his end-of-life wishes to friends, doctors and hospice, yet in the end he was subjected to medical torture for 5 days. His emergency room nurse daughter was arrested for assisted suicide and spent $100,000 defending herself for an entire year before the case against her was dismissed.
- To Die Well: Your Right to Comfort, Calm, and Choice in the Last Days of Life (2008) – by Sidney Wanzer and Joseph Glenmullen
- The Last Goodnights: Assisting My Parents with their Suicides (2010) – by John West. In locales other than liberal communities, Mr. West would likely have been prosecuted for assisting the suicide of his parents upon publication of this book. But West and his parents lived in metro California, specifically, Los Angeles.
- Last Wish (1998) – by Betty Rollin
- Deathing: An Intelligent Alternative for the Final Moments of Life (1989) – by Anya Foos-Graber
- A Time to Die: The Place for Physician Assistance – by Charles F. McKhann
- Dignified Dying (2015) – by Boudewijn Chabot, MD, PhD
- A Graceful Passage (1990) – by Arnold R. Beiser, MD
- Jane Brody’s Guide to the Great Beyond: A Practical Primer to Help You and Your Loved Ones Prepare Medically, Legally, and Emotionally for the End of Life (2009) – by Jane Brody
- Final Victory : Taking Charge of the Last Stages of Life, Facing Death on Your Own Terms – by Thomas A Preston, MD (2000). Advice on how to live the final stages of life.
- Patient Directed Dying, a Call for Legalized Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill, by Tom Preston, MD. (1997) Why aid-in-dying is not suicide when used by terminally ill patients
- The Best Way to Say Goodbye (2007)- by Stan Terman
- Before We Say Goodbye (2009) – by Sean Davison. A son’s account of caring for his 84-year old terminally ill mother and her request to help her die.
- To Die Like a Dog (2002) – by Lesley Martin
- The Walk to the Paradise Garden (2011) – fiction – by Leon Arden
- One True Thing (1994) – fiction – by Anna Quindlen
- Never Say Die (2011) – by Susan Jacoby
- Death with Dignity (2011) – by Robert Orfali
- Wrong Medicine, 2nd edition (2011) – by Larry Schneiderman and Nancy Jecker
- A Good Death (2008) – by Rodney Syme
Movies and DVDs on Hastened Death
Most are available at Amazon.com
- Go Gentle
- Robin’s Wish
- Final Exit
- A Finished Life
- Grace Quigley
- One True Thing
- The Sea Inside
- Right of Way
- Million Dollar Baby
- Honey (Miele)
- You Don’t Know Jack
- The Barbarian Invasions
- It’s My Party
- How to Die in Oregon
- Short Stay in Switzerland
- Soylent Green
- The Helium Method
- The FBI and the Bag Lady. This is a play I wrote in 2008 based on the true story of Sharlotte Hydorn. She had been a board member of the Hemlock Society of San Diego and resigned to make high quality Exit Bags. If you don’t know what they are the play explains and also tells the history of what happened to Shar after her encounter with the Feds. You are welcome to download it and perform it. Just mention me in the credits. The woman you cast as Shar is not—a sweet old lady—she is a pleasant, courageous, articulate fighter – not angry but determined. She was tall and liked to wear big hats. I loved and admired her and hope to honor her with this piece. Faye Girsh
- Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) a legal, peaceful way to avoid prolonged suffering at end of life.