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Healthy Woman Ends her Life at Suicide Clinic cos She didn’t Want to Become a Burden on her Family

A healthy former nurse chose to end her life at a Swiss suicide clinic because she did not want to become a burden on her family or the NHS.

Gill Pharaoh, 75, was not suffering from a terminal illness but decided she did not want to depend on others by becoming frail in old age. The former nurse, from north London, travelled to the clinic for her assisted suicide on July 21.
She travelled there with her husband, John, and spent the evening before her death having a ‘tranquil’ meal on the banks of the Rhine.

In a blog post two months before she died, Mrs Pharaoh explained why she had chosen to die.

‘Until I was seventy I was very fit and able to fully participate in any activity I wanted to
do. I felt I could still be busy and useful and fairly productive. Then I had a severe attack of Shingles and it all changed. At seventy five I am told I look ok and I take no medication.

However, I feel my life is complete and I am ready to die. My family are well and happy – their lives are full and busy. I can no longer walk the distances I used to enjoy so the happy hours spent exploring the streets of London are just a memory now.’

The mother-of-two explained that she did not want to become an ‘old lady blocking beds in a hospital ward’. She continued:

‘I have had to make my exit while I am in my right mind and capable of doing so without too much assistance, because I am afraid of compromising the people around me whom I love.
‘I have had to do this outside my home, and without telling too many people for the same reason. I have written my goodbyes and tidied my life and hope I have managed to exit as unobtrusively as possible. I have always held a donor card but that will be redundant now.

If I could have booked my death quite openly, I could have had a party before I died, in the way that people have done, and continue to do, in Switzerland and other places.

In which case, perhaps any of my body parts that could be reused could be collected immediately. I could also be sure that I will never be an old lady blocking beds in a hospital ward. This would save the NHS a fortune.’

Speaking to the Sunday Times weeks before her death, Mrs Pharaoh said she wanted to end her life because she knew how frail she was becoming.

‘I have looked after people who are old, on and off, all my life. I have always said, “I am not getting old. I do not think old age is fun”.

I know that I have gone just over the hill now. It is not going to start getting better. I do not want people to remember me as a sort of old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley.’

Mrs Pharaoh spent her last day with her husband, John, dining by the Rhine in Basel. He said it was ‘enjoyable’ and that he chose not to spoil their last evening together by being ‘emotional and heavy’.
Before her journey to Switzerland, Mrs Pharaoh told her children, Mark and Caron, who did not find it easy to cope.
She said:

‘It is not his [John's] choice at all and my kids are backing me, although it is not their choice. My daughter is a nurse and she said, “Intellectually, I know where you are coming from but emotionally, I am finding it really hard”, and I know she is.’

Mrs Pharaoh arranged her own humanist funeral which will take place later this week.

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Updated: August 2, 2015 — 8:40 pm
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