Dignitas: Background information when reading Me Before You

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Me Before You

A Novel

by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes X
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 2012, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2013, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Dignitas

Print Review

At the center of Me Before You is an intensely emotional and ethical debate about assisted suicide; and in particular, of the assisted-death organization, Dignitas, which plays a primary role in the story. Dignitas, founded near Zurich, Switzerland in 1998, has as its motto "to live with dignity – to die with dignity." The organization's assisted suicide programs are very carefully regulated and require that prospective patients undergo a series of psychological and medical assessments. Patients must also certify that they are making the decision to die of their own free will; Swiss law mandates that assisted suicide be done without coercion or self-interest on the part of the person or organization assisting with the process. Suicide is accomplished humanely through ingestion of a powerful overdose of pentobarbital, which first numbs pain, then induces a coma, and finally results in respiratory arrest and death. It's estimated that more than a thousand people have been assisted to die by Dignitas.

Dignitas is not the only organization providing these services, and Swtizerland is not the only place in the world where assisted suicide is legal (three U.S. states have legalized physician-assisted suicide, although under stricter regulation than in Switzerland). Digitas's relatively liberal policies and their willingness to work with so-called "suicide tourists" who travel to Switzerland from elsewhere in Europe or around the world has resulted in significant attention and publicity, as well as criticism and controversy. A former nurse employed by the organization has accused it of being overly concerned with profits and not enough with the mental and physical well-being of its patients. According to the Journal of Medical Ethics, more than 20 percent of Dignitas's patients have no physical or mental illnesses, but simply cite "weariness with life" as their rationale for suicide, raising numerous questions about what constitutes reasonable and ethical grounds for suicide assistance. A recent article in the Daily Mail relates the agonizing story of a man who took ninety minutes to die, nearly three times as long as what Dignitas's physicians promise.

Sir Terry PratchettNo matter what, the issue of assisted suicide, and Dignitas's services in particular, will continue to be debated in literary circles; British superstar writer Terry Pratchett, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008, has declared his intention to seek death with Dignitas when the time comes, saying "it should be possible for someone stricken with a serious and ultimately fatal illness to choose to die peacefully with medical help, rather than suffer."

Photo by Steffan Hill

Article by Norah Piehl

This article was originally published in January 2013, and has been updated for the July 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Magnificent Esme Wells
    The Magnificent Esme Wells
    by Adrienne Sharp
    Esme Wells was not made to sit back and wait for her destiny. She was made to be magnificent. With ...
  • Book Jacket: Gateway to the Moon
    Gateway to the Moon
    by Mary Morris
    Miguel Torres is a teenager living in Entrada de la Luna, a poverty-stricken dot on the New Mexico ...
  • Book Jacket: New World, Inc.
    New World, Inc.
    by Simon Targett, John Butman
    When we think about the founding of America, we typically envision Pilgrims in black garb and boxy ...
  • Book Jacket: New World, Inc.
    New World, Inc.
    by Simon Targett, John Butman
    When we think about the founding of America, we typically envision Pilgrims in black garb and boxy ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Harbor of Spies by Robin Lloyd

A captivating thriller-at-sea set in Spanish colonial Havana in the 1860s.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Eternal Life
    by Dara Horn

    The award-winning author returns with an ingenious novel about what it would mean to live forever.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

In youth we run into difficulties. In old age difficulties run into us

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.