A 44-year-old man died by medically assisted suicide in Italy on Thursday, the first case of its kind in the country.
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While it’s technically against the law to help someone take their own life in Italy, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled in 2019 that there could be some exceptions, albeit under strict conditions.
The man, identified after his death as Federico Carboni, died after taking a lethal cocktail of drugs on his own through a special machine. His family and friends were by his side when he passed away.
Carboni’s death was announced by Associação Luca Coscioni, a euthanasia support group that helped him defend his case before the courts and health authorities.
He was a truck driver and was paralyzed from the neck down ten years ago after a traffic accident.
“I do not deny that I regret saying goodbye to life,” he said before his death, according to the Luca Coscioni Association. “I did everything I could to live the best I could and tried to make the most of it despite my disability, but now I’m at my limit, both mentally and physically,” said Carboni.
As a quadriplegic, he needed 24-hour care, which made him always dependent on support and left him without independence, he said, which made him feel like a “boat adrift in the ocean.” “Now I’m finally free to fly wherever I want,” he said.
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In 2019, Italy’s Constitutional Court allowed assisted suicide in some cases. The issue had faced fierce opposition from the Catholic Church and conservative parties.
The court outlined certain requirements that must be met in order to apply for assisted suicide. For example, it must be clear that a patient cannot be cured, that he is dependent on life-sustaining means, and that he is experiencing “intolerable” physical and mental pain.
A patient must also be fully capable of making his own decisions and understanding the consequences.
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Carboni received permission from an ethics committee last November after appealing the health authorities’ initial refusal and taking his case to court. He was the first person in the country to obtain such legal approval.
He then needed to raise 5,000 euros (R$ 27,000) to cover the costs of medicines and special equipment needed to put an end to his life. The Luca Coscioni Association launched a crowdfunding initiative to raise money for this.
“We will continue to fight so that similar obstructionism and violations of the will of the sick are not repeated,” the association said in a statement.
Assisted suicide has been allowed in Switzerland for decades. The practice is also legal in several other countries, including the Netherlands, Austria and Spain.