Over 30 Britons die in Swiss suicide facilities

More than 30 Britons travelled to Swiss suicide facilities to end their lives last year, The Daily Telegraph has reported.

Figures obtained by the national newspaper revealed the number of people that had died in Dignitas or Ex-International in 2009.

Pro-lifers said recent media coverage of the issue had fuelled the numbers.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well, said: “I’m not surprised because there’s been free adverts for Dignitas on the television and radio,” she said.

Lady Finlay, a professor of palliative medicine, said the number of Britons ending their lives abroad remained small but raised serious questions.

“How many were terminally ill, how many were depressed and how were they assessed? If they were in pain they wouldn’t have been able to travel.

She added: “What was the reason behind it – were they made to feel a burden by their family or felt they didn’t have a place in society?”

It emerged last year that several of the 100 plus British suicides at Dignitas involved people not suffering from terminal illnesses.

An attempt to make it legal to help someone travel to a suicide clinic overseas was defeated last July after the House of Lords heard how such a law could put vulnerable people at risk.

Last June the Swiss Government revealed they were considering a new proposal to ban assisted suicide facilities in Switzerland in a bid to curb suicide tourism.

Wesley Smith, a bioethicist, said: “Apparently certain elements of the Swiss Government are sick and tired of the travesty of suicide tourism”.

He added: “I wish the Swiss would outlaw assisted suicide altogether, but stopping the organisations that prey on the weak, vulnerable, and despairing would be a good step in the right direction.”

Earlier this week the Prime Minister issued a stark warning that any change to the law on assisted suicide in this country would put pressure on “the frail and the vulnerable” to end their lives.

Mr Brown has been a consistent opponent of assisted suicide and warned that creating a legal “right” to die would place unacceptable pressure on those with terminal illnesses or disabilities.

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