Caring Friends is a program of the Hemlock Society (now called “Compassion & Choices,” coordinated out of Hemlock’s national headquarters in Denver. Caring Friends trains volunteers to personally assist suicide and Hemlock provides how-to-commit-suicide information by mail.
Hemlock and Caring Friends promote assisted suicide for people with disabilities.
Caring Friends seeks to have assisted suicide available for “every American whose quality of life is unacceptably diminished by an irreversible physical condition.”  Note: “Irreversible physical condition” can include disabilities resulting from accidents, early stage multiple sclerosis, or minor strokes.
Caring Friends services are available for those who have “an irreversible physical condition that severely compromises quality of life.” 
Hemlock extols assisted suicide for elderly people who are not ill.
“Some couples choose to die together, regardless of whether both are in poor health, or only one….That the couple would wish to die together is a tribute to the strength of a loving relationship.” 
Hemlock advises that Caring Friends be present at assisted suicides.
“Even if we published Helium for Dummies, we still think that having someone with expertise present is better.” 
“[E]nding your life can be complex, you only do it once, and failure could be disastrous.” 
“We think the majority of people considering a hastened death would have better results if they did it in conjunction with Caring Friends.” 
Hemlock’s Medical Director admits that plastic bags and gas are used for Caring Friends’ assisted suicides.
“We have had to shift to techniques using plastic bags and helium. That, remarkably has become an acceptable method of hastening death….It is a very speedy process and it has never failed in our program.” 
Hemlock’s description of the plastic bag and gas method of assisted suicide:
A plastic bag and helium produces “gentle, quick and certain death.” 
The gas “disperses easily and is difficult to trace in a corpse.” 
During the dying process “a little twitching in the arms and legs” should be expected. 
One should say goodbye before the bag is pulled over the head since, once the flow of gas begins, “the helium makes the voice sound like Donald Duck.” 
“Although a large plastic bag for roasting can be used, we recommend the Canadian Exit Bag for Helium, which can be obtained from…” 
“If a regular plastic bag is used, a rubber band or panty hose loosely tied around the neck is necessary.” 
Hemlock claims that Caring Friends’ services are available to Hemlock members only, however a person can become a Hemlock member via fax and request Caring Friends’ services on the same day. 
* Note: In mid 2003, the Hemlock Society changed its name to “End-of-Life Choices.” At the end of 2004, End-of-Life Choices merged with Compassion in Dying. The organization is now known as “Compassion and Choices.”
 Faye Girsh, “I Have a Dream,” Speech given at Third Caring Friends Training, June 8, 2001, Minneapolis, MN. Printed in Hemlock’sTimelines, Summer 2001, p.8. Girsh is Hemlock’s senior vice president.
 Dr. Richard MacDonald, Hemlock’s Medical Director who is present at most Caring Friends’ assisted suicides. From transcript of audio tape, “Hemlock’s Crown Jewel: Caring Friends After Four Years,” 13th National Hemlock Biennial Conference, Bahia Resort Hotel, San Diego, California, January 11, 2003.