91-Year-Old Woman Selling $60 Suicide Kits
An elderly California woman has ignited heated controversy by selling mail-order suicide kits. According to the Daily Beast, Sharlotte Hydorn, age 91, personally assembles the kits and sells them for $60 through her company, the Gladd Group. Each kit contains a plastic bag, a tube and a book titled Final Exit, all packed into a white box adorned with a butterfly. Customers have to rent a helium tank; they place their head in the plastic bag and run a hose from the bag to the tank. Helium is lethal in its pure form.
Four months ago, the first confirmed suicide attributed to Hydorn’s kit was reported in Oregon when 29-year-old Nick Klonoski, who was not terminally ill but reportedly suffered from depression, was found dead in his bed with a plastic bag over his head and a Gladd Group helium-hood kit in the room.
Nick’s brother Zack was incensed. “In a society where so many people suffer from depression and other mental health disorders, this company has found their niche in the market by peddling death,” he testified at a state legislative hearing earlier this month. “This is analogous to putting a gun-vending machine next to a depression clinic. The Gladd company, so named as to avoid suspicion in case family members happen to sign for or come across the package, made $60 off my brother’s death.”
According to the Daily Beast, the Gladd Group’s estimated annual sales are $98,000, meaning that Hydorn sells 1,633 suicide kits each year.
Under Oregon’s progressive Death With Dignity Act, terminally ill residents are allowed to obtain lethal prescriptions to end their own lives. But Hydorn doesn’t only sell her kits to terminally ill people.
Oregon State Senator Floyd Prozanski (D), aghast upon learning of Klonoski’s death, has introduced a bill that would make it a Class C felony to sell suicide kits. “There’s no check and balances as to who actually may be buying them including minors,” Prozanski told KVAL.
But Hydorn defends her business with a personal story. She told the Daily Beast that 30 years ago, her husband, “a six-foot-four, wonderful, handsome, loving, intelligent man,” was dying of colon cancer. The disease spread to his brain after numerous operations, and doctors had to cut a hole in his stomach through which his waste passed into a bag. Hydorn strongly believes that no human being should have to suffer through the kind of slow, painful death in a cold hospital room that her husband experienced.
“Death should be with loved ones beside you, holding your hand,” she said.
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