An 83-year-old woman in the Spanish region of Aragon died by suicide over the weekend, after her euthanasia application was left unprocessed for months.
The elderly woman, identified only as Emilia, jumped out of the window of her apartment in Zaragoza province's Las Fuentes neighborhood Saturday, Spanish media outlet Publico reported. Other details such as the official cause of death were unclear.
Emilia suffered from a congenital hip dislocation that had deteriorated over the years and caused her chronic physical pain, according to Spanish News Today.
She attempted to take her own life twice prior to her fatal leap last weekend. But she decided to file a formal application to be euthanized following its legalization in Spain through the passing of the Organic Law to Regulate Euthanasia (LORE) back in March.
"[Emilia] basically fulfilled the conditions established by the LORE for those who wish to die with dignity and put an end to their suffering," the Right to Die with Dignity Association in Aragon, a pro-euthanasia party that Emilia was a member of, said.
"She and her family believed that, once the LORE was approved and launched, the right [to a dignified death] would be recognized without impediment in accordance with the established requirements," the group was quoted as saying by Spanish television network Antena 3.
The application was first presented to a family doctor through Emilia's daughter on July 8, but the medical practitioner refused to take the document. The patient's daughter presented the document again to a family doctor on July 27 but was once again refused.
The euthanasia request was then taken to the Torre Ramona Health Center, but it was also not processed, a report by the Heraldo de Aragón said. The woman's family was then told that her request had been forwarded to an "evaluation committee," which also failed to contact them.
In October, the family went to the Zaragoza association to file a complaint.
The association has since criticized doctors and officials at the health center for failing to process the request, Informacion reported. "No doctor wanted to take responsibility," the group said.
"Any health professional can take the papers, as long as he guarantees that he is a responsible doctor and enter that information in the medical record and at that moment the process begins," said Consuelo Miqueo, a retired doctor and member of the Right to Die with Dignity Association.
In euthanasia cases, all doctors have the right to conscientiously object, but another medical professional should have been assigned to the patient.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patient Javier Serrano, who became the first person in Madrid to be euthanized on Nov. 3, also reportedly suffered delays in his application due to the ineffectiveness of the city's community.
If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours, every day.