Former Taiwan sports commentator Frank Fu Ta-jen. Photo: Facebook
Former Taiwan sports commentator Frank Fu Ta-jen. Photo: Facebook

Former sports commentator Frank Fu Ta-jen has become the first Taiwanese to opt for assisted suicide. The 85-year-old chose to end his life in Dignitas, a non-profit organization for assisted suicide in Switzerland, where the act is legal, accompanied by his family on his final journey.

In his Facebook post, Fu said he had a meeting with the Dignitas founder to discuss the details of the operation before writing: “I will end my life peacefully and naturally without any pain. So long, goodbye, farewell!”

Fu suffered from pancreatic cancer and suffered unbearable pain and he had to take massive doses of morphine which would often cause him to fall asleep. His weight dropped drastically from 74kg to 48kg.

Last November he announced he had approval for an assisted suicide in Switzerland at a cost of NT$3 million (US$100,000). Fu survived almost six months longer, but started campaigning to legalize doctor-assisted suicide in Taiwan.

The former basketball player held ‘a living funeral’ in December 2016 and advocated the right for an individual to end one’s life. At that time, he wrote to the Presidential Office of the Republic of China and argued that the legalization of assisted suicide could save social resources in the aging society.

But the office replied and rejected his idea in early 2017.

Fu was not the only Chinese who championed assisted suicide. Four years ago, Chinese-Canadian criminal lawyer Edward Hung ended his life in Switzerland after suffering from incurable ALS.

In a letter headlined “Approaching death” that he shared with friends after death, he wrote: “At the time of writing, I have finally satisfied all the requirements for accompanied suicide and it is a great relief.

“However, my pride as a Canadian has somewhat diminished after having been on my knees begging to die in another country. This is not fair and I certainly do not wish it upon any of my fellow Canadians.”

The debate on assisted suicide, which has seen getting increasing support among the Chinese population, will go on.