Dutch alcoholic chose euthanasia to end 'unbearable' life

The Hague (AFP) –


A Dutch long-term alcoholic chose to end his life this year by lethal injection saying he could no longer go on, his brother has revealed in a moving, emotional tribute.

Mark Langedijk was 41 and the father of two small sons when he decided the only solution to end his pain and suffering was euthanasia, which was carried out earlier this year in The Netherlands at his parents' home.

"My little brother is dead," wrote Marcel Langedijk, a freelance journalist, in an article for the Dutch magazine Linda published last week.

"It was in his head. It was his problem. What the problem was no-one could really ever find out," he added, revealing that his brother had undergone 21 rehab sessions over the last eight years and had had the support of his loving family.

"By the time Mark realised that he needed help, that he needed to talk to someone, it was already too late. By that time alcohol had him in his grip and was not about to let him go."

Langedijk set July 14 as the date for his death -- "a nice day to die" -- and spent his last hours with his family in his parents' garden, eating cheese and ham sandwiches, and meatball soup and smoking.

An approved doctor then came and administered the three injections that would kill him.

Contacted by AFP, Langedijk's publicist said the "international reaction" to his article had been "overwhelming and quite unexpected" and he "feels he has said everything he wants to say for now" as he writes a book about his family's experience.

The Netherlands and neighbouring Belgium became the first countries in the world to legalise euthanasia in 2002. But it is carried out under strict conditions, and only after a minimum of two doctors have certified that there is no other reasonable solution for the patient.

Last year there were 5,516 cases of euthanasia in the country -- or 3.9 percent of all registered deaths.

More than 70 percent of those who opted to end their lives in this way suffered from cancer. But there were also 2.9 percent who suffered from dementia or psychiatric illnesses, including some who were described as battling long-term alcohol abuse.