Healthy 75-Year-Old Ends Her Life So She Won't Grow Old

Retired nurse Gill Pharaoh says she saw too much in nursing home
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2015 7:10 PM CDT
Updated Aug 8, 2015 6:59 AM CDT
Healthy 75-Year-Old Ends Her Life So She Won't Grow Old

A British woman with no serious health issues ended her life July 21 at a suicide clinic because, she said, she didn't want to grow old. Gill Pharaoh, 75, said her work in a nursing home revealed the "awful" truth of old age and burdens placed on loved ones and caregivers, the Telegraph reports by way of the Sunday Times. "I do not want people to remember me as a sort of old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley," she said before going to the Lifecircle clinic in Basel, Switzerland. Pharaoh says she wasn't depressed or incapacitated by illness, though she described a bad bout of shingles after turning 70 and the annoyance of tinnitus in a lengthy blog post about her choice. There, she recounted a life slowly sapped of former joys like long walks and gardening sessions. "Not to mention the hundred and one other minor irritations like being unable to stand for long, carry a heavy shopping bag, run for a bus, remember the names of books I have read, or am reading, or their authors."

She spent a last evening in Basel with her life partner John that he describes as "tranquil and enjoyable. ... Gill had been thinking about it for years and I had no intention of spoiling it by getting emotional and heavy." Her daughter Caron, also a nurse, admits the decision was hard on her, but Pharaoh wrote in her blog post that while many parents expect their children to care for them in their old age, she would not to put that burden on her own kids. "I had children for the personal and selfish reason that I wanted them for the pleasure and joy they bring. I want them to enjoy their middle years without having to worry about me." She concedes that "people will have different reactions to my choice," but asks that lawmakers "listen to, and respect, the views of people like me, and I am not alone in holding this view." Indeed, a study shows that 611 Brits went to Switzerland between 2008 and 2012 to medically end their lives. (A depressed 24-year-old was recently granted the right to die.)

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