Scottish cousins suicide together in Switzerland: the 'ultimate abandonment'

by Paul Russell:

The Telegraph newspaper today is reporting on the death of elderly cousins by suicide in Switzerland that took place last November.

The story does not say why the details are only becoming available at this time but the cynic in me sees a deliberate link to the current debate in the Scottish Parliament on assisted suicide.

Coming in like the tide the pro-assisted suicide brigade cites this tragedy as a reason why assisted suicide should be made legal in Britain. A tenuous connection to say the least.

According to the report, 'Stuart Henderson, 86, and Phyllis McConachie, 89, took their lives together in a Swiss clinic in November last year. Neither was terminally ill.'

Inseparable for the last 40 years of caring for each other, the report suggests that their developing ailments may well have seen them both become residents in separate nursing homes; something that they did not want to happen.

Clearly they saw that they had no choice. How is this supporting self-determination and autonomy? How would making assisted suicide available in Scotland or England solve their concerns? It would not. All it would do is save a trip to Switzerland. Pro-assisted suicide group, Friends at the End told the media that British assisted suicide laws would have spared these elderly cousins 'the ordeal' of having to travel overseas to die. This is at best faux compassion because it does nothing to address the underlying problem which, in a caring society, should be relatively easy.

Balancing out 'friends' the article reports Dr Peter Saunders from the UK CareNotKilling Alliance calling out these deaths as "a great tragedy". 

"Assisted suicide in these circumstances is the ultimate abandonment," he said.

"This tragic case strongly underlines the need for comprehensive and affordable patient-centred care in which people's social and spiritual needs and not just physical needs are provided for."

A Dr Libby Wilson (who it appears is a spokesperson for Friends at the End) said: "They should have been able to die in their own flat." See here the focus on death rather than life! The real point to be made is that they should have been able to LIVE together in their own flat or elsewhere. As they say, with 'friends' like that…

It's a mad, mad world!