Section 5.1

Will you qualify? Does your age make a difference

“It all depends on your likely quality of life”

If you are suffering from Motor Neurone Disease or one of the other incurable illnesses that can affect people at any time in their lives then, if you really cannot live with its consequences, your age does not matter at all.   Once the severity of such a disease has become apparent and once all hope of a cure has disappeared then many patients do indeed take a rational decision to end their lives now before things have become too intolerable.   To take such a decision and make use of an assisted suicide in Switzerland you need to be over 18 and you must obviously be of sound mind.   In those circumstances, even people in their twenties can make the fateful journey to Switzerland, and some do.

In the absence of such a severe illness, however, then all sorts of other “quality of life” issues enter themselves into consideration.   And one of these is your age.   A person in their fifties who is diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease can probably look forward to several years of active and rewarding life before the consequences of the disease become too difficult.   The same person diagnosed in their seventies might feel more strongly that things should be brought to a close fairly soon. Lifecircle, in particular, says that “very old people should have easier access to AVD, as over the age of 85 they are more likely to suffer from an acute illness which leads to a loss of mental capacity but not to death”.

The same thought process applies in other circumstances, too.   A middle-aged person suffering from acute grief at the loss of a partner or child might well feel suicidal but would not be a candidate for an AVD in Switzerland because, for all their current misery, the future would seem relatively bright if proper medical and emotional treatment could be provided.   The same situation for a person in their eighties could simply add to the burden of living a life that had already become difficult, increasing their chances of acceptance for an AVD.

Read Next Section >
Section 5.2

Will you qualify? - Can you go on your own?