‘Restrictions on liberty and interference with rights, privacy, dignity and self-respect ... [should be] kept to the minimum necessary in the circumstance’ (Jervis on The Offıce and Duties of Coroners, 1957).
Cleaning Away and the Law
Given that the deaths that we are talking about in The Peaceful Pill eHandbook are peaceful and dignified, any cleaning up refers to the removal of equipment such as an Exit Bag or empty drug packets from the scene of death. In some situations, this type of ‘cleaning away’ can be done well ahead of time. Many people who end their lives by drinking Nembutal will clean things up themselves. They will remove the bottle. They may even have time to rinse their glass before they nod off to sleep. If this is done, the cause of death will clearly look natural (even if it is suicide).
In most countries, cleaning up (if it means removing a gas cylinder and Exit bag) will be classified as an offence as it is interfering with the ‘circumstances of a death’ or ‘interfering with a corpse’ etc. In the scheme of things, this is not a serious crime. Note: removing an Exit bag from a perons’s head after they have died, is a very different matter to helping the same person put the bag on their head in the first place. It is clearly ‘assisting a suicide’ to help a person position a bag on their head.
If, by chance, the authorities do become aware that some ‘cleaning-up’ has taken place, family and friends can explain their actions by saying that they were ‘protecting their family’s reputation’. They can say that it would be a ‘blemish on the person’s good name’ if their suicide were ever to be made public.