The Telegraph reports that the coroner investigating the death of Lady Lucan in September 2017 recorded a verdict of suicide. Lady Lucan is reported to have “self-diagnosed” as having Parkinson’s disease, and to have previously discussed assisted suicide with a friend, should they develop a terminal illness or a degenerative disease. There was no suggestion that her suicide was “assisted”, as she died alone by taking “a cocktail of drink and drugs”.
This is another tragic end of life, lonely, probably too soon, and without proper medical discussion and professional support. It results from the lack of an open, legal and medically assisted suicide process in the UK. This case reaches the news as it concerns a high profile figure, like that of Sir Nicholas Wall. We don’t know how many more similar cases there are within the wider population. Research suggests that over 7% of suicides are by people who are in the narrower category of “terminally ill”. Neither Lady Lucan nor Sir Nicholas Wall would fall into that category so the true percentage must be considerably higher.
MDMD sympathises with those, like Lady Lucan, who, after careful consideration, and in the face of incurable illness, feel that their life is complete, and that taking their own life is their best option. But, unlike those who rejected a change in the law, we do not consider taking one’s own life, without professional consultation and assistance, to be acceptable. We campaign for a better law. The various approaches people like Lady Lucan may consider all have serious disadvantages. With appropriate assisted dying legislation, in conjunction with good elderly and palliative care, Lady Lucan might have lived for much longer, in the comfort of knowing that if things got truly unbearable, or she was close to loosing her mental capacity, she could request medical assistance to die. Our challenge, as a country, is to bring about such legislation – broad enough to help people reaching the end of their life, like Lady Lucan, have the good death they desire, but safe enough to prevent abuse.