Man facing sentencing in suicide powder case takes his own life


A 77-year-old man from Castricum accused of illegally aiding suicide has ended his life days before he was to be sentenced, the public prosecution office has said.

Prosecutors had called for a 2.5 year custodial sentence against Tom de M., with six months suspended, for selling a chemical compound known as “substance X” online.

The unnamed powder, used in the chemical industry, was sold as a pain-free means to end one’s own life, but it can take people up to 40 hours to die, experts have said.

Selling the powder is not an offence in itself, but under Dutch law, it is illegal to help someone to die, except by a doctor following the strict conditions of euthanasia legislation.

The public prosecutor said De M. supplied the powder to at least 223 people, six of whom died, including a 33-year-old man.

Money laundering

De M earned around €75,000 from the sale of the substance and was also accused of money laundering.

The prosecution said De M had shown “very little responsibility for the lives of others” but De M maintained his actions were not born of greed but of a need to help others. The substance was put in a safe with a code for 60 days so people who ordered it had time to change their minds.

M is the second person suspected of supplying substance X who died before being sentenced. Loek de Leeuw, 80, died in April “from the stress of the protracted court case”,  his daughter told the Volkskrant.

The verdict against the remaining group of elderly members and ex-members of the right-to-die campaign group Coöperatie Laatste Wil (CLW), of which M. was a member, is expected on Thursday.

They are accused of belonging to a criminal organisation. Substance X was distributed illegally through an underground circuit linked to the organisation, the prosecution claims.

Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts can chat with someone anonymously online at or call the free number 0800-0113.

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