Italy's first assisted suicide: Mario wins right-to-die bid

First time an Italian health authority gives green light for assisted suicide.

Italy's first medically assisted suicide case has been authorised by the ethics committee of the ASUR regional public health authority of the Marche region.

The news, announced by the Luca Coscioni right-to-die association, concerns a tetraplegic man who has been paralysed from the shoulders down for the last 11 years as a result of a traffic accident.

The patient - whose identity has not been revealed but is called by the invented name "Mario" in the media to protect his privacy - made a request for assisted suicide more than a year ago, in August 2020.

Mario had originally planned to go and die in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, but changed his mind and decided to fight his case in Italy, with the help of the Luca Coscioni association.

His appeal was turned down initially by authorities however the Ancona court ruled subsequently that the patient met the necessary requirements for legal access to assisted suicide.

Mario is the first person in Italy to be given authorisation to proceed with assisted suicide, after the Italian constitutional court ruled in 2019 that it is not always a crime to help someone in “intolerable suffering”to kill themselves, provided they meet four conditions.

These include the patient being kept alive by life-sustaining treatments; suffering from an irreversible illness, a source of physical or psychological suffering that the patient deems intolerable; being fully capable of making free and informed decisions; and not having the intention to use other health treatments for pain and deep sedation.

The constitutional court made its decision in 2019 after being asked to rule on the case of Fabiano Antoniani, known as DJ Fabo, a music producer and motocross driver left tetraplegic and blind by a 2014 traffic accident.

Marco Cappato, the treasurer of the Luca Coscioni assocation, helped Antoniani to end his life by accompanying him to Switzerland in 2017.

In a video released on Tuesday by the Luca Coscioni association, Mario said: "I feel lighter, I have freed myself of all the tension built up over the years. I am tired and I want to be free to choose the end of my life. Nobody can tell me that I am not too bad to continue living in these conditions", and therefore "condemn me to a life of torture."

"Everyone should take their responsibilities, putting aside ideology, hypocrisy and indifference" - Mario said - "because you are playing with the pain of sick people."

This summer more than one million Italians signed a petition seeking a referendum to decriminalise euthanasia,  a divisive issue in Italy which faces strong opposition from conservative politicians and the Vatican.