Amsterdam: A 41-year-old man has ended his life by fatal injection rather than carry on living as an alcoholic, in a radical new extension of Holland’s euthanasia regime.
Mark Langedijk decided that death was the only way to escape from his addiction to drink, according to an account published by his brother.
Mr Langedijk set the date for his own death and was joking, drinking beer and eating ham and cheese sandwiches in the hours before his GP arrived at his parents’ home to administer fatal injections, it said.
The death of Mr Langedijk marks a new departure in Dutch euthanasia practice, which killed more than 5,500 people last year.
The scope of the mercy killing law, introduced 16 years ago to apply only to those in unbearable suffering, has already widened so that those who die include many whose problems include ‘social isolation and loneliness’.
One of those who died was a woman in her 20s who had been a victim of child sex abuse.
Papers released to explain the workings of the euthanasia laws said doctors believed she could not live with her mental suffering and her post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions were incurable.
The story of Mr Langedijk’s death, produced by his brother Marcel, was published in the magazine Linda.
It said the two boys and their sister Angela had shared a quiet, easy-going and happy childhood in the eastern Dutch province of Overijssel, and they had been ‘carefree children.’
Mr Langedijk said the family discovered eight yars ago that Mark had a problem with drink.
‘Psychologists, psychiatrists, GPs and other health care professionals did their best to help him,’ he said, ‘but Mark could not explain to anyone what he felt.
‘I was particularly angry at Mark. At first we did what most people do: help.
‘My parents especially have done everything humanly possible to save Mark. They adopted his two children, they took him in when his marriage finally collapsed, they helped him find accommodation, they arranged rehab, they gave him money, support and unconditional love.
‘Through eight gruelling years and 21 hospital and rehab admissions they continued to believe in a happy ending.’
But, Marcel Langedijk said, his brother began drinking again after every attempt at rehabilitation.
Eventually, Mark decided, nothing could be done, and the best solution would be to die.
‘We took it with a grain of salt,’ Marcel Langedijk said.
‘Euthanasia was for people with cancer, people suffering unbearably, people for whom death was imminent. Euthanasia was certainly not for alcoholics.’
He said his brother told his GP: ‘I want to die, enough is enough.’
As evidence that his life was unbearable, he kept a diary, which Marcel Langedijk said presents ‘a hopeless cocktail of pain, drink, loneliness and sorrow.’
Mark Langedijk’s application for euthanasia, he said, was approved by a doctor from Support and Consultation on Euthasia in the Netherlands, the medical body set up to provide expertise on euthanasia.
Marcel Langedijk said his brother set a date for his death – 14 July – and described it as a ‘nice day to die’.
In the weeks beforehand he called himself a ‘dead man walking’.
Before receiving the fatal injections, Mr Langedijk sat on a bench in his parents’ garden and drank beer. He told jokes, ate ham and cheese sandwiches and soup with meatballs, until the doctor arrived at 3.15 in the afternoon.
Marcel Langedik’s article described how the doctor explained the injection procedure and told his brother to lie in bed and stay calm.
She told him there would be a dose of a saline solution, and then a sleep-inducing drug, and then and injection to stop his heart.
It said: ‘I started crying, my parents, everyone, even Mark.’
Mr Langedijk drank a last glass of white wine, smoked a cigarette, but turned down another one because ‘I’m dying now,’ Marcel Langedijk said.
The doctor, he said, told his brother to ‘take it easy’ and asked: ‘Are you sure 100 per cent you want this?’ She then administered the injections.
British MPs said the account of Mr Langedijk’s death was evidence of the ‘slippery slope’ effect in which euthanasia, once legalised, can be spread to wider and wider groups of people.
Fiona Bruce, Tory MP for Congleton and co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said: ‘This news is deeply concerning and yet another reason why assisted suicide and euthanasia must never be introduced into the UK.
‘What someone suffering from alcoholism needs is support and treatment to get better from their addiction – which can be provided – not to be euthanised.
‘It is once again a troubling sign of how legalised euthanasia undermines in other countries the treatment and help the most vulnerable should receive.’
Robert Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, said: ‘Yet again Holland demonstrates it is a dangerous place to have any physical or mental illness, to be struggling with any life challenges, or just to differ from what they might call normal.
‘The state-authorised killing of their citizens is out of control and is, quite frankly, terrifying.’