Canadian Poet Chose Assisted Death

Canadian Poet Chose Assisted Death

Al Purdy Exercised Right-to-Die by Assisted-Suicide

OTTAWA, April 2016 /CNW/ – Canadian Poet Al Purdy’s 33 volumes of poetry spanned 56 years and he was known as Canada’sunofficial poet laureate. He died at home in British Columbia on April 20, 2000, from what was thought to be natural causes.  Some 16 years later an astonishing first-hand account by John Hofsess, “The Consensual Death of Al Purdy“, tells the true story.

“The Consensual Death of Al Purdy” is the only complete, unabridged account of his assisted death. It is now available as a 28-page feature article in the Spring issue of Humanist Perspectives magazine at

HP front coverThis article is a chapter from a soon to be released e-book , “The Future of Death: True Stories about Assisted Dying.” by John Hofsess.  The book details the author’s participation in the eight suicides which he assisted and chronicles the struggles of the right-to-die movement from Sue Rodriguez up to the present, as the Canadian Government develops new assisted-suicide legislation.

Al Purdy had been afflicted with Cancer for a few years. At the age of 81, he decided to end his life before the suffering became unbearable. He asked John Hofsess, President of the Right to Die Society of Canada, of which Mr. Purdy was a member, to help him.

Assisting a suicide risked a heavy penalty under the law but Hofsess nevertheless ensured that Al Purdy was granted his wish to have a painless and dignified death. John Hofsess assisted in 7 other suicides.

Simon Parcher, President of Canadian Humanist Publications, says, “John Hofsess was a compassionate man who cared so deeply that he risked his own freedom in order to help people who were suffering slow and painful deaths.”

Al Purdy wanted his story to be told so it might someday help inspire the creation of more humane legislation. He and John Hofsessagreed that John would publish the account at the time of his choosing. Since telling the story would quite likely result in John being charged with murder, timing was critical. John Hofsess arranged to have this account published posthumously, shortly after his own assisted death in Switzerland, on February 29, 2016.

A close friend and author, Gary Bauslaugh, remembers John Hofsess as a compassionate upholder of individual rights, especially the right to a dignified death.

In the e-book, Hofsess provides an intimate, first-hand account of the author’s decision to seek an assisted death in Basel, Switzerland. Madeline Weld, co-editor of Humanist Perspectives, has written a final chapter for the book describing the events in the assisted voluntary death room. Ms. Weld was one of the people who went to Switzerland to be with John during his last days. The e-book will be released in early May by Canadian Humanist Publications, the publisher of Humanist Perspectives magazine.

SOURCE Canadian Humanist Publications