A microelectromechanical (MEM) device is disclosed that includes a shuttle suspended for movement above a substrate. A plurality of permanent magnets in the shuttle of the MEM device interact with a metal plate which forms the substrate or a metal portion thereof to provide an eddy-current damping of the shuttle, thereby making the shuttle responsive to changes in acceleration or velocity of the MEM device. Alternately, the permanent magnets can be located in the substrate, and the metal portion can form the shuttle. An electrical switch closure in the MEM device can occur in response to a predetermined acceleration-time event. The MEM device, which can be fabricated either by micromachining or LIGA, can be used for sensing an acceleration or deceleration event (e.g. in automotive applications such as airbag deployment or seat belt retraction).