‘Tragic’: Assisted suicide for cousins who feared separation

Two Scottish cousins have been helped to kill themselves in Switzerland in a case described as a “great tragedy”.

Stuart Henderson and Phyllis McConachie travelled abroad to a pro-assisted suicide group, Eternal Spirit, after fearing that they would be placed in separate care homes.

The organisation told Henderson’s nephew about the 86-year-old’s actions after the assisted suicide. He said he was sad not to have been told of the plans, or to have had an opportunity to say goodbye.

Ultimate abandonment

Commenting on the case, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing Peter Saunders said it is a “great tragedy” that the pair “felt driven to this desperate course of action apparently by the thought of being separated”.

“Assisted suicide in these circumstances is the ultimate abandonment”, Dr Saunders commented.

He added that the 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”.

“Failure to provide this support, particularly if accompanied by a change in the law to allow assisted suicide, will have the effect of steering more vulnerable elderly people towards taking their lives”, he added.

Lethal injection

The pair lived in Ayrshire and killed themselves on 10 November last year, after being given lethal drugs.

They were not terminally ill, but Phyllis McConachie had recently had a fall and the cousins were worried about being separated if she fell again.

MSPs are currently considering a Bill in Scotland which would introduce assisted suicide.

Palliative care

The plan, which would allow patients as young as 16 to end their lives even if they are not terminally ill, is being led by Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

Last month politicians were told that legalising assisted suicide would damage palliative care and reduce motivation to find cures for debilitating diseases.

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