The Quickie

A bite-sized look at this week's news…

Suicide in Switzerland- budding rugby star dies.

Posted by allie1985 on October 21, 2008

This week it has emerged that another Briton has killed himself at a suicide clinic.

Daniel James, 23, died on September 12 2008 in a Euthanasia Clinic in Switzerland. He travelled there with his parents, Mark and Julie.

This draws further attention to Debbie Purdie’s case to the High Court. She is asking Sir Ken MacDonald to clarify the law concerning friends and relatives helping the sick travelling to a foreign country where assisted suicide is legal.

Sir Ken MacDonald is the Director of Public Prosecutions for the High Court.

According to the Mail on Sunday, Dan James is the youngest known Briton to travel to die by assisted suicide in another country.

The case is also considered unusual because unlike most Daniel was not suffering from a terminal illness.

 Budding rugby star

Until 18months ago Daniel was a promising rugby hooker.

According to the Telegraph, Dan had represented both England Students, and England Universities and was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and play professionally.

He was studying construction engineering at Loughborough and was in the middle of his degree when he suffered an accident.

The rugby player was paralysed from the chest down after a scrum collapsed on him seriously injuring his spine.

For someone who had such an active life, Dan’s parents said he found his situation “unbearable”

 His parents

Detectives are questioning Julie and Mark, but both defend their decision to help their son to die.

“Daniel found his life so unbearable and tried to commit suicide three times” Assisted suicide was his only option other than to starve himself.

“Over the last six months he had constantly expressed his wish to die and was determined to achieve it in some way”

Mark and Julie agreed to help their son as they could not bear seeing their son so unhappy. He did not want to live a “second class existence”.

“Our son could not have been more loved, and had he felt he could live his life this way he would have been loved just the same, but this was his right as a human being, nobody but nobody should judge him or anyone else”

 The facts

Euthanasia is illegal in Britain but as of 2008 it has been legalised in four neighbouring countries, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Over the last 10 years about one hundred Britons have travelled abroad to kill themselves. Most travelling to Switzerland to the Dignitas clinic in Zurich, where it can cost up to £3000 to end your life.

So far nobody who has assisted those ending their lives overseas has been arrested, although several have been investigated. If arrested and found guilty, Dan’s parents could face up to 14 years imprisonment.

Backup piece

 

Alexandra Murphy

(Alexandra.murphy@my.westminster.ac.uk)

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