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.