‘I’m grateful to the doctors who saved me from suicide’

A disabled woman who twenty five years ago had a “settled wish” to die has said her “life is worth living” despite her pain.

Alison Davis said she understands the difficult issues faced by those with incurable illnesses but the law on assisting suicide must still remain firm.

She explained, in a letter to a national newspaper, that she had attempted to commit suicide on a number of occasions.

When doctors treated her against her will and saved her life she said she was “angry”. But now she is grateful.

She continued: “If I had died, I would have missed the best years of my life, though I still have pain, worse now than it was when I wanted to die.”

Miss Davis is the National Co-ordinator of No Less Human, an organisation which promotes a positive view of disability.

She wrote: “Having spina bifida, hydrocephalus, emphysema, osteoporosis and arthritis, I spend my life in a wheelchair. I also spend a lot of time in bed, as sitting up can make the pain worse.”

Miss Davis concluded: “My experience shows that it’s possible to come out on the other side and to demonstrate that life is worth living.”

Her letter in full:

I’m concerned that in all the ‘compassion’ expressed towards Kay Gilderdale for ‘helping’ her daughter Lynn to die, the case against allowing such ‘mercy’ hasn’t been heard.

Few people can understand Lynn Gilderdale’s desperate wish to die better than I can, but I still say the law shouldn’t allow actions such as hers. Having spina bifida, hydrocephalus, emphysema, osteoporosis and arthritis, I spend my life in a wheelchair. I also spend a lot of time in bed, as sitting up can make the pain worse.

Like Lynn, I desperately wanted to have a child and had to come to terms with the knowledge that I never would.

I have severe pain daily, and, as with Lynn, morphine doesn’t always alleviate it. I’m living with a crushed vertebra, as a result of my osteoporotic bones, which is causing even more pain than usual.

Typing this letter is giving me additional pain due to arthritis in my fingers, wrists and elbows.

Twenty-five years ago, like Lynn, I decided I wanted to die. It was a settled wish.

Unlike hers, however, my wish to die lasted ten years. During those years I attempted suicide more than once. On occasion, I was treated against my will by doctors, who saved my life. Then, I was angry with them. Now, I’m grateful.

If I had died, I would have missed the best years of my life, though I still have pain, worse now than it was when I wanted to die.

Additionally, no one would ever have known that the future held something better for me, not in terms of physical ability, but in the support and love of friends.

My experience shows that it’s possible to come out on the other side and to demonstrate that life is worth living.

Alison Davis, Blandford Forum, Dorset.