Hove doctor who helped Sussex woman take life at Swiss suicide clinic says she lived a "completed life".

Dr Michael Irwin

Dr Michael Irwin

First published in News
Last updated
Exclusive by , local government reporter

A woman who ended her life at a Swiss suicide clinic wanted to “go out with a bang” the doctor who helped her has said.

Hove based doctor Michael Irwin was contacted by the 89-year-old, known only as Anne, five months ago as she was applying to end her life with Dignitas's Switzerland based clinic.

He said that having lived a full life, the woman from Sussex, had become disillusioned with modern life and wanted to go out in her own way and had already been considering ending her life for 18-months before she contacted him.

He said: “Early on in this process she contacted me because the complexity of going through the bureaucratic process can be draining. “She was a fascinating lady who loved to talk to people and she had a big independent character.”

During his conversations with Anne and her niece Linda - who was with her through the whole process - Dr Irwin said that she told him she had become fed up with the way modern life worked and had also been dealing with heart and lung conditions which had seriously hampered her life.

“She felt she'd had a completed life,” Dr Irwin told The Argus. “She had serious heart and lung problems which restricted her ability to move around and they were getting worse and coupled with the age factor - she was 89 - she felt she'd had a completed life. When you get into your 80s you start to feel you're on borrowed time and you begin to think about things.

“She was perfectly aware. She was an art teacher and took great pride in hand writing. She had the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen. Which was another thing she didn't like, the fact that people don't send thank you letters anymore, they might possibly send an email, and she didn't like that people weren't polite to strangers anymore. She was devoted to the radio and loved classical music. She had all the good things that we rely upon.

“She was someone who was very much in control. She'd worked in Africa, Kenya and Australia and she was a very independent lady who wanted to be in control. Why should we be forced to get more and more debilitated with age, we should all go out with a bang and not a whimper - which was a favourite saying of hers at the end.”

The issue of assisted suicide remains a highly contested issue in the UK, where it remains illegal.

According to Dr Irwin, who is a member of Dignitas, he has been involved in several applications with people who have gone to Switzerland to end their life.

MPs recently gave their backing to a Bill which would allow terminally ill adults to take life-ending medication.

The Assisted Dying Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords, would give those adults more choice about ending their own lives as long as they met certain strict criteria.

Dr Irwin said he was in favour of the proposed legislation which would give more people a say about how their lives ended.

Comments (4)

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8:29am Mon 7 Apr 14

Juleyanne says...

The sooner the better, bring it on! I think it is fundamentally and morally wrong to forcibly prolong a life of pain, discomfort and suffering. People should have the choice available, especially in cases of terminal illness.
The sooner the better, bring it on! I think it is fundamentally and morally wrong to forcibly prolong a life of pain, discomfort and suffering. People should have the choice available, especially in cases of terminal illness. Juleyanne
  • Score: 33

12:26pm Mon 7 Apr 14

whatone says...

The fact that the state can dictate to individuals how they can end their lives is merely an extension of how the state dictates how individuals can live their lives.

Its time to take the power back!
The fact that the state can dictate to individuals how they can end their lives is merely an extension of how the state dictates how individuals can live their lives. Its time to take the power back! whatone
  • Score: 8

2:37pm Mon 7 Apr 14

getThisCoalitionOut says...

The sooner this is bought to the UK the better.

It costs a fortune to go to this clinic in Switzerland, over £10K!
The sooner this is bought to the UK the better. It costs a fortune to go to this clinic in Switzerland, over £10K! getThisCoalitionOut
  • Score: 6

7:44pm Mon 7 Apr 14

1styummymummy says...

Michael Irwin provides an outstanding service for those in need and sooner rather than later, the right to die, will be legalised in this country.
My mum went to Dignitas and I had to help her fill in all the endless forms and write her life story. She had a terrible condition called Dystonia which left her riddled in pain and living in a haze of drug taking to help her get through each tormented day. It cost her £10,000, something which I know not everyone has access too; without wanting to pay this she initially attempted to take her own life but ended up being sectioned for it. This is so wrong on so many levels. Why cant a GP who has cared for his patient and who knows the family, be allowed to carry out the patients wishes. Instead mum had to spend her savings, go through the trauma of looking over her shoulder every second of the day incase someone came to take her away because of what she wanted to do, but in the end she got her wish and my siblings and I were at her side when she took the fatal sip of medicine. It was very peaceful, exactly what she wanted.
One day we will all have the choice to end our lives when we are ready and not at the mercy of our pain and suffering.
Michael Irwin provides an outstanding service for those in need and sooner rather than later, the right to die, will be legalised in this country. My mum went to Dignitas and I had to help her fill in all the endless forms and write her life story. She had a terrible condition called Dystonia which left her riddled in pain and living in a haze of drug taking to help her get through each tormented day. It cost her £10,000, something which I know not everyone has access too; without wanting to pay this she initially attempted to take her own life but ended up being sectioned for it. This is so wrong on so many levels. Why cant a GP who has cared for his patient and who knows the family, be allowed to carry out the patients wishes. Instead mum had to spend her savings, go through the trauma of looking over her shoulder every second of the day incase someone came to take her away because of what she wanted to do, but in the end she got her wish and my siblings and I were at her side when she took the fatal sip of medicine. It was very peaceful, exactly what she wanted. One day we will all have the choice to end our lives when we are ready and not at the mercy of our pain and suffering. 1styummymummy
  • Score: 4

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