Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

“To live with dignity, to die with dignity” is the motto of the Zurich-based assistant suicide clinic, Dignitas. But apparently not to rest with dignity. Divers have found, according to the British Daily Mail , “scores of urns containing human ashes” at the bottom of Lake Zurich near Dignitas’ facilities.

The urns were discovered by chance when divers from a rescue service were looking for a lost sunshade from one of their boats.

After retrieving 13 urns they notified the Environment Agency and police divers were called in.

One said: “After 50 we stopped counting. They lay there in a big heap.”

Environment Agency spokesman Wolfgang Bollack said: “We have filed a criminal complaint against unknown persons for disturbance of the dead.

“The retrieved urns are being kept in a place respecting their dignity.”

The irony is obvious, but the epithet “hypocrite” should not be so quickly hurled at the undignified Dignitas. The idea that suicide is a human right is based upon the belief that human beings are completely autonomous, that autonomy is, in fact, the very essence of human nature and therefore human dignity. In this view, there is little reason to respect the human body as it is nothing more than an instrument for executing the will. It has no more dignity than that of a can opener: Once it fails to get the job done it can be carelessly chucked in the trash—or the bottom of a lake.

Dear Reader,

We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.

Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on

Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.

Will you give today?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles