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Annotated Bibliography

© 2019 Derek Humphry

"How-to" books, booklets, pamphlets, and electronic newsgroup postings on self-deliverance by year of publication. Plus list of articles and chapters in books dealing specifically with 'how-to' books.


Mair, George B. How to Die with Dignity. Scottish Exit. Privately published. Available only to members of right-to-die societies of three months' standing. 31 pages. Saddle-stitched* booklet.

The ground-breaking publication in this field but it contained numerous errors caused by too-rapid publication. Never the subject of publicity or legal actions. Sold approximately 5,000 copies over 15 years due to membership restrictions.

Admiraal, Pieter V. MD. Justifiable Euthanasia: A manual for the medical profession. NVVE, Amsterdam. Saddle-stitched* booklet. 11 pages.

Published in Dutch and English. Intended for the medical and pharmaceutical professions but the demand for such information caused it to go into wider circulation. It was sent to 19,000 doctors and 2,100 pharmacists. More than 10,000 lay people bought the document.

Anonymous. Supplement to How to Die with Dignity. Scottish Exit. Privately published. Free to holders of the above.


Anonymous. A Guide to Self-Deliverance. EXIT. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society, London. Privately published. Limited to members. 32 pages. Saddle-stitched* booklet.

Withdrawn from circulation, 1983, after court ruling that a suicide using this book could result in a criminal prosecution (See Times Law reports). Both the publication and its withdrawal caused considerable controversy. Sold approximately 5,000 copies.

Anonymous. Supplement to A Guide to Self-Deliverance. EXIT. 4 pages. Withdrawn, 1983.

Humphry, Derek. Let Me Die Before I Wake: Hemlock's book of self-deliverance for the dying. Hemlock Society, Los Angeles. Members only draft. Paperback. Perfect bound. 102 pages.

The first actual book (with spine). The drug information was not given in the customary tables but within a series of true stories reported by the author.

Anonymous. Menschenwurdiges und selbstverantwortliches Sterben (Dying with Dignity in Self-Determination). Published by Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Humanes Sterben (DGHS) e.V. Germany. Not sold publicly. Free of charge to members of DGHS after one year of membership. Saddle-stitched* pamphlet. 15 pages.

Updated eight times until 1992. Withdrawn May, 1993. The only 'how-to' literature to recommend the use of cyanide.


Guillon, Claude and Yves Le Bonniec. Suicide: Mode d'Emploi. Histoire, technique, actualité (Suicide: Operating Methods). Editions Alain Moreau, Paris. Paperback. Perfect bound. 276 pages. Price: 69 French francs. (Also published in German and Japanese translations).

Caused huge publicity world-wide and was criticized because it appeared to advocate suicide for political reasons. It made no reference to terminal illness. The drug dosage information was mostly taken from Dutch (NVVE), British (EXIT), and American (Hemlock) publications. Enjoyed huge sales and ample notoriety, so was probably the main reason the French Parliament passed the 1987 law banning all 'how-to' suicide books.

Landa, A. Michel. Autodeliverance (Self-Deliverance). Association pour le Droit de Mourir dans la Dignité. Privately published for members only. Saddle-stitched* booklet. 40 pages. Price: free to ADMD members. Revised edition 1985.

Written by Michel Landa, founder of ADMD, during the last year of his life. Withdrawn 1987 when French law banning such books was passed. The new Article 318-1-2 of the French Penal Code introduced a penalty of between two months and three years, or a heavy fine, for the provocation of an attempted or completed suicide. A rider was added to the law making the same penalties applicable to those who "create propaganda or publicity, regardless of the mode, in favor of products, objects or methods recognized as ways of bringing about suicide." After taking extensive legal advice, ADMD realized that the law permitted no exception for terminal illness so ceased publication.

Humphry, Derek. Let Me Die Before I Wake: Hemlock's book of self-deliverance for the dying. Hemlock Society, Los Angeles. First commercial edition. Distributed to bookstores, libraries by Baker & Taylor (wholesalers). Paperback. Perfect bound. 120 pages.

Went through four printings 1981-85. Protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution (right to free speech), Let Me Die had been sold only to members in 1981 but demands for its wider release brought it onto the commercial market the following year. It met with few criticisms. Over ten years, Let Me Die sold approximately 150,000 copies, 80 percent by mail order. Hundreds of dying people used this book to accelerate their ends.


Sybrandy, Klazien and Rob Bakker. Zorg jij dat ik niet wakker word? Vrijwillige euthanasie in de praktijk (Will you see to it that I don't wake up?)Anthos, The Netherlands. Publicly sold. Paperback. Perfect bound. 192 pages.

Extremely practical book based on the personal experiences of Mrs. Klazien Sybrandy, one of the great pioneers of euthanasia in the Netherlands. The most valuable aspect of the book was the tips for the effective ingestion of drugs in self-deliverance.


Hemlock Quarterly. Issue 17. October, 1984.Drug Dosage Table. One page chart in newsletter for Hemlock members only. Triggered a steady demand for back issues of this particular Hemlock Quarterly.

Anonymous. Humanes Sterben in Wurde under Selbstverantwortung. Informationsschrift uber freitod (Humane Dying with Dignity & Responsibility. Informational pamphlet about voluntary death). EXIT (Deutsche), Switzerland. 18 pages. Saddle-stitched* booklet. Sold only to members of three months' standing.

Withdrawn and replaced by the 1993 booklet. Assisted suicide for the terminally ill is not a crime in Switzerland so long as the helper is acting out of good motives. Nevertheless the taboo against suicide is strong enough to cause EXIT to help with great caution.


Anonymous. 1986 Supplement to How to Die with Dignity. Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Scotland. Privately published. Sold only to members. 11 pages. Saddle-stitched* booklet. Price: free to holders of the original 1980 publication. (A further supplement was issued in 1990).

Humphry, Derek. Let Me Die Before I Wake. Hemlock Society, Los Angeles. Distributed to bookstores by Grove Press. Paperback. Perfect bound. 132 pages.

Revised and extended edition with newly-designed jacket, required by the book's new trade distributor, the Grove Press, New York.


Anonymous. Handleiding voor Vrijwillige Milde Dood (Instruction for voluntary, gentle death). RWS, Antwerp, Belgium. Privately published. Sold only to members of six months' standing. Saddle-stitched* booklet. 32 pages.


Hemlock Quarterly. Special reprint of article "Self-deliverance with certainty" by Colin Brewer, MB, MRCS, MRCPsych, coupled with the 1984 "Drug Dosage Table". Hemlock Society, Eugene, Oregon. Privately published. Pamphlet. 4 pages.

This tiny, easy-to-read pamphlet sold thousands of copies in the USA. It gave credence to self-deliverance using a plastic bag.


Humphry, Derek. Final Exit: The practicalities of self-deliverance and assisted suicide for the dying. Hemlock Society, Eugene, Oregon. Hardcover. 192 pages. Distributed by Carol Publishing, New York.

Written to replace the aging Let Me Die, it was much more specific in details. Declined by most major publishers in the USA, UK and Australia, it was published by Hemlock using a New York distributor (Carol). Printed in large type to assist those with poor sight. Created a storm of controversy in North America but calls for its banning were shouted down. Eighteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Sold slightly over 500,000 copies in hardback and by the end of 1991 was that year's 4th-best selling nonfiction hardcover book in North America. Also translated into Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Danish, Italian and Korean. The French translation banned in France but available in Switzerland, Belgium and Canada. A curious feature in Britain was that all publishers declined to issue the book yet the imported American edition was widely and openly sold by the retail book trade and even displayed in shop windows.


Humphry, Derek. Final Exit: The practicalities of self-deliverance and assisted suicide for the dying. Revised and extended. Dell trade paperback, New York. Worldwide public distribution. Perfect bound. 214 pages.

Increased by the author from 192 to 214 pages, this commercial edition had extended chapters and also more warnings against abuse. Sold approximately 125,000 copies to date.


Anonymous. Manual for competent, incurably ill patients requesting assisted suicide. 16 pages. EXIT (Deutsche) Switzerland. In German and English. Saddle-stitched* booklet. Free to members only. Replaced the 1984 booklet.

Docker, Christopher Grant and Cheryl K Smith. American title: Departing drugs: An international guidebook to self-deliverance for the terminally ill. United Kingdom title: Supplement to How to Die With Dignity. Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Scotland. Privately published. Sold only to members of right-to-die groups of three months' standing. Saddle-stitched* booklet. 68 pages. North American edition published by The Right to Die Society of Canada.

The most extensive listing of lethal drugs published so far, although in 32 of the instances the additional use of a plastic bag is recommended to confirm self-deliverance. Makes a case for the use of tricyclic and anti-malarial drugs in combination with other drugs to offset possible side-effects.

Humphry, Derek. Self-deliverance from an end-stage terminal illness by use of a plastic bag. Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (ERGO), Junction City, Oregon. Privately published but available to all upon request. Illustrated pamphlet. 4 pages.

Harper's Magazine called this "a 13-step plan so minutely detailed that only a fool could screw up." Pamphlet contained two photographs of a woman using a plastic bag. Sold nearly 1,000 copies in its first year. Extended and re-issued in 1994.

Tsurumi, Wataru. The Complete Manual of Suicide. Publisher: Yurindo. Paperback. 200 pages. 1,200 Japanese Yen.

Not connected with euthanasia or self-deliverance of the terminally ill, it tells a society which is permissive of suicide for any reason how to end it all. It reports the best buildings from which to jump and how to lock oneself in a refrigerator. Became a Japanese bestseller. Plans under way for an English edition.


Geo Stone Suicide and Attempted Suicide: Methods and Consequences Hardcover. Publisher: Carroll & Graf, New York. ISBN 0786704926.

A very detailed look at self-destruction which leaves little to the imagination. Both bizarre and sensible ways are described.


Humphry, Derek. Supplement to Final Exit. Trade Paperback. Internationally Available. Publisher: Norris Lane Press and ERGO. 64 pages.

The latest how-to and why of euthanasia and hastened death.


Humphry, Derek. Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying. Paperback. Publisher: Delta Books, New York. ISBN 0385336535.

The bestseller from 1991 is completely brought up to date with this 3rd edition. Available anywhere in the world through good bookstores.


Humphry, Derek. The Good Euthanasia Guide. Paperback original. Publisher: Norris Lane Press, Oregon. ISBN 093728083. 2005. 218 pages.

Note: * "saddled-stitched" is a publishing term for stapled.



Ames, Katrine et al. Last Rights. Newsweek. August 26, 1991. pages 40-41.

Blake, Patricia. Going Gentle into That Good Night. Do Suicide Manuals Help Create a Bias Towards Death? Time, USA. March 21, 1983.

Book Reviews by Motto, Maris, Litman, Battin and Richman on Derek Humphry's Final Exit. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior. 22:4, Winter 1992. pages 513-528

Brewer, Colin & Mary Rose Barrington, et al. Letter to the Editor: Aiding Suicide. London Times, June 4, 1992.

Brown, Paul. Suicide Guide 'not illegal'.The Guardian, London. May 8, 1983.

Colt, George Howe. The Enigma of Suicide . Summit Books: New York. 1991. pages 373-379.

Docker, Christopher Grant. A Guide to Suicide Guides . Last Rights. Issue No. 11, 1994. Right to Die Society of Canada. pages 24-29.

Evans, Glen. Suicide, 'how-to' manuals . Entry in the Encyclopedia of Suicide. Facts on File, New York. 1988. pages 252-253.

Fadiman, Anne. Death News: Requiem for the Hemlock Quarterly . Harper's Magazine, USA. April, 1994. pages 74-82.

Final Exit : euthanasia guide sells out . Nature Magazine , London. vol 352, August 15, 1991. page 553.

Fleming, Joseph B. Booklet is suicide how to. Moneysworth January 1980: page 9.

Henry, William A III. Do-It-Yourself Death Lessons . Time August 18, 1991: 138(7) page 55

Humphry, Derek and Ann Wickett. The Right to Die: Understanding Euthanasia . Harper and Row Publishers: New York. 1986. pages 116-117, 174-175.

Lesh, Carolyn. France's 'how-to' Suicide Text Object of Outrage, Brisk Sales. Associated Press, Paris. September 8, 1983.

Magrath, Paul. Distribution of booklet containing advice about suicide- - whether aiding and abetting suicide -- Suicide Act 1961, s.2(1) -- whether declaratory relief appropriate." Criminal Law Review.: January, 1984. pgs 35-36.

Marzuk, Peter Dr et al. Increase in Suicide by Asphyxiation in New York City after the Publication of Final Exit.

New England Journal of Medicine. USA. Vol 339, No 20, November 11, 1993. Author's letter in reply: New England Journal of Medicine. Vol 330, No 14, April 7, 1994.

The Right-to-die book . Newsweek. September 6, 1982. vol 100. pg 41.

Smith, K.J. Assisting in suicide: the attorney-general and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.. Criminal Law Review. September, 1983. pgs 579-586.

Times Law Reports. Queen's Bench Division. The Times, London. April 29, 1983.

The Ultimate Runaway Best Seller. Newsweek. August 19, 1991. pg 57.

The Way Out. The Economist. September 14, 1991. pg 94.

Please submit additions and corrections to this list to ERGO.