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UK suicide tourist: 'Ideal shelf life for people is 70'

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UK suicide tourist: 'Ideal shelf life for people is 70'
Photo: AFP/File
08:21 CEST+02:00
The death of a healthy British former nurse at a suicide clinic in Basel is igniting controversy in the UK at a time when the number of foreigners coming to end their lives in Switzerland is rising sharply.

Gill Pharaoh, 75, decided to die with dignity in order to avoid “the kind of old age I have always dreaded and feared”.

She set out her reasons in a blog before carrying out an assisted suicide at the Swiss clinic on July 21st.

“I have always suspected that an ideal shelf life for many people is about 70 years,” the one-time palliative care nurse said in the blog, entitled “My last word”.

Until that age, Pharaoh said she was very fit and was able to fully participate in any activity she wanted.

“Then I had a severe attack of shingles and it all changed.”

She said she was not taking any medication but was less physically active, suffered from tinnitus and did “not want to follow this natural deterioration through to the last stage when I may be requiring a lot of help.”

In an interview with The Sunday Times before her death, published on Sunday, Pharaoh said she did not want to become “an old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley”.

But she had to travel to Switzerland to end her life because laws in Britain do not allow assisted suicide, a situation that she hoped lawmakers would change.

The number of “suicide tourists” visiting Swiss clinics doubled between 2008 and 2012, a period when 611 people from 31 countries ended their lives in the mountain country, according to a recent study.

Of these, 126 came from the UK, the study published by Zurich researchers in the Journal of Medical Ethics said.

More than double that number came from Germany (268), followed by France (66), Italy (44), the US (21), Austria (14), Canada (12), Spain (eight) and Israel (eight).

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