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|August 1, 1992|
Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying is a controversial 1991 book by Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society in California and past president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies.
A newspaper journalist and author who helped his wife, Jean, kill herself with an intentional overdose of medication after a long and painful decline from terminal cancer. Humphry wrote the book as a how-to guide for terminally ill people who wish to kill themselves. The controversy arose not only from the intense debate over whether one should have a right to kill oneself, and whether anyone, especially medical professionals, can ethically assist self-chosen euthanasia, but also because the information in the book can be used by anyone, not just the terminally ill.
The book covers many aspects of planning and carrying out suicide and covers the processes for a variety of suicide methods.
In 2000, a Supplement to Final Exit was published with a new chapter on a method using helium gas as an alternative not requiring controlled prescription drugs. In 2001, marking the book's 10th anniversary, this information was included in the revised 3rd edition of the book. In 2005, an electronic addendum to the 3rd edition was released, offering refinements to the helium bag technique. The addendum was updated May 2009.
Success of the book
Final Exit has been translated into 12 languages and is banned by law only in France. In 2017 it remained in print in English in its 3rd edition. In all editions, it is reckoned to have sold about two million copies in 26 years.
In 1991 it was 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
Humphry subsequently put the information in this book onto a VHS video (2000) and a DVD (2006), both available through ERGO.
References in pop culture
- Industrial metal band Fear Factory uses quotes from Humphry's video in the last track, "Final Exit", of their seventh studio album Mechanize.
- In a Christmas episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Dr. Forrester gives TV's Frank a copy of the book as a gift after he reveals that he stole Frank's blood to pay for it.
- In episode 11 of the sixth season of Married... with Children, Al Bundy can be seen reading this book while in bed.
- In episode 6 of the first season of The Powers That Be (1992), Theodore Van Horne (David Hyde Pierce) reads this book in bed ticking off the methods he's tried.
- Bill Hicks incorporated this book in several of his bootleg shows as a build-up to one of his controversial sketches on how euthanasia can make movies more interesting and believable, quoting a phrase "Put 'em in the movies...
- In episode 10 of season one of the Showtime TV show "Huff", Beth Huffstodt finds a copy of the book in her mother-in-law's closet and worries that her mother-in-law is planning to kill herself.
- In the novel All My Puny Sorrows, suicidal Elfrieda orders a copy of this book and her husband and sister debate whether or not to dispose of it.
- Final Exit Network
- The Complete Manual of Suicide by Wataru Tsurumi
- The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Philip Nitschke
- Five Last Acts II and The Exit Path, by Chris Docker
- Suicide methods
- Euthanasia device
- Curiosities of Literature by John Sutherland. Arrow Books 2008.
- Singer, Peter (6 April 2001). "Peter Singer's top 10 books". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- Huff (TV series)
- Humphry, Derek (1991). Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying. ISBN 0-9606030-3-4.
- Humphry, Derek (2000). Supplement to Final Exit. ISBN 978-0-9637280-3-6
- Humphry, Derek (2002). Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying, 3rd edition. ISBN 0-385-33653-5. Delta Trade Paperback. Revised and updated.
- Humphry, Derek (2002). Let Me Die Before I Wake & Supplement to Final Exit. ISBN 978-1-4011-0286-9
- Humphry, Derek (2008) Good Life, Good Death: Memoir of an investigative reporter and pro-choice advocate. Hardcopy and eBook. ISBN 978-0-9768283-3-4