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A Mother’s warning about her son’s death by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

by | May 21, 2024

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An 82-year-old mother in the UK is warning people about assisted suicide after her 47-year-old son died at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic.

Paul Brand reported for ITV.com on May 16, 2024 that the Pegasos clinic which assists the suicides of hundreds of people every year, assisted the suicide of Alastair Hamilton, who had an undiagnosed condition.

Following an ITV News investigation, Pegasos said it would change its procedures to ensure that relatives were always informed in future. Brand reported:

The chemistry teacher had dramatically lost weight and complained of stomach problems in the months leading up to his death, but did not have a diagnosed illness.

His family had been supporting him in seeking medical help and had no idea he was really travelling to Switzerland to end his life.

When he failed to return to the UK and stopped answering his phone, his mother reported him missing.

Bank records eventually revealed that he had paid £11,000 to Pegasos to access what’s known as a ‘voluntary assisted death’ in Switzerland.

ITV News travelled with his family to trace his final journey and confront the clinic which accepted his online application form, which has been seen by ITV News.

Pegasos approved Alastair’s death even though they knew that he had an undiagnosed condition. Brand reported:

Limited to 300 word answers, Alastair told them that his undiagnosed condition was causing him “pain, fatigue and discomfort” which had “devastated my life”.

However, he admitted that “there is no current, definitive medical explanation” for his illness and that his family did not know he had decided to take his own life.

Despite that, Pegasos accepted his application and within several days of arriving in Switzerland he was helped to die.

At first Pegasos did not respond to the Hamilton family but after ITV got involved they agreed to meet with the family. Brand reported

Eventually, with the involvement of police and the British embassy, the clinic responded, confirming Alastair’s death and returning his ashes to his family in the post.

We persuaded a representative from Pegasos to meet with Judith and Bradley in Switzerland to answer their questions.

At an anonymous office in central Basel, we were greeted by Sean Davison, who had spoken repeatedly to Alastair before he died.

Sean Davidson is a past President of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies and a former leader of Dignity South Africa. He completed three years (house arrest) in South Africa for his conviction in the deaths of Anrich Burger (in 2013), Justin Varian (in 2015), and Richard Holland (in 2015). Sean Davidson was also convicted in the death of his mother in 2010 and he lost his medical license in New Zealand in 2020.

Brand ended the article writing

“In 2022, the Swiss Medical Association revised its guidelines regarding assisted dying. It is important to understand that these guidelines are not legally binding for the associations but are policies for the medical professionals. Several organisations for assisted dying, including Exit, Dignitas and Pegasos, publicly spoke out against the revised guidelines, because they are putting at risk the self-determination of people planning a voluntary assisted death and the freedom of choice in Switzerland.”

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and reposted with permission.

Categories: Assisted Suicide