A healthy British woman who chose to end her life to avoid becoming a burden in old age has died at a Swiss euthanasia clinic.
Gill Pharaoh, 75, was not ill or depressed, but chose to end her life.
The former palliative care nurse travelled to Switzerland late last month, accompanied by her husband John, to spend the final days of her life at Basel euthanasia clinic Lifecircle.
In a July blog post, Ms Pharaoh said her decision was partly based on her experiences in the palliative care system and the things she had seen in that role.
“During my working life, first as a general nurse and then working in palliative care, I often met people who felt that their life was complete and that they were no longer prepared to fight to stay alive,” she wrote.
“I often felt that they were being urged to “keep fighting” when in fact they were quite ready to give up.”
Ms Pharaoh’s story is part of a growing trend in Switzerland, which has legally permitted assisted suicide since 1942, of what has been termed ‘suicide tourism’.
A 2014 study found the number of people travelling to Switzerland to access assisted suicide services had doubled in the space of four years, with German and UK citizens making up almost two-thirds of the total.
People suffering debilitating neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease made up almost half of the 611 people seeking Swiss euthanasia services between 2008 and 2012.
Ms Pharaoh spent the final hours of her life dining on the banks of the Rhine River with her husband and wandering through the city streets.
Explaining her decision, Ms Pharaoh said although she was not chronically ill or depressed, she did not feel the same zeal for life she had when she was younger and did not want to become a burden on her family and the National Health Service.
“I feel my life is complete and I am ready to die,” she added in her blog.
“My family are well and happy – their lives are full and busy.
“I can no longer walk the distances I used to enjoy… I cannot do the garden with the enthusiasm I once had and I find fifteen minutes is more than enough time spent weeding or digging.
“And I have a number of aches and pains which restrict my pleasure in life generally although none are totally incapacitating.”
She will be remembered at a humanist funeral this week.