Jeffrey Spector: The 54-year-old father who killed himself at Dignitas – in his own words

'I am going too early because of the law in the UK'

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The Independent Online

Jeffrey Spector, the latest Briton to take their own life at Dignitas in Switerland, explained his decision in the weeks leading up to his death. Here are extracts from interviews he gave up until the eve of his suicide on 22 May.

“I wanted control of the final stages of my life. I was a fit and healthy person and my life has been turned upside down. What started as back ache in 2008 soon developed into an illness which led me to having to make this most awful decision.

I am going before my time but I am not scared. The tumour could stabilise but I cannot take that chance. Some people will criticise me but do not judge me. Never judge anyone unless you have worn their shoes. You don’t just wake up and think, ‘I’ll do it’. It has to be a collection of consistent thoughts, without peer pressure. It has to be a settled decision of sound mind. If the UK law was changed I would go down the surgery route to take the tumour out – get rid of it. Conventional wisdom says I won’t improve. If I am paralysed and can’t speak, send me to the spirit world. If I am paralysed and can speak and my mind is ok, ask me the question.

But I don’t want to take the chance of very high-risk surgery and find myself paralysed. You are left with the choice someone else must take over. But I am a proud person. A dignified person. It is me doing it. I am an independent, self-motivated person. I believe in my human right to dignity. I want the ability to have a cup of tea and hold a phone - I want to be able to do those things myself. I believe what I am doing is in the best long-term interests of my family. They disagree with that of course but they do accept I have my own opinion.

I am going too early because of the law in the UK. I am going worse quite quickly. I am very clear and of a sound mind. I want people to know it is not just a decision. I knew and always knew when my hands got to a certain point, that would be a red line.  If the law was changed then what difference if I had an operation? I could do it after. Rather than go late, I am jumping the gun. I can still quit at the last moment. I call this the least worst option. I have considered the implications for my family. It is a selfish, unselfish decision. It is best for my family in the long term. If the law was changed I would not have gone when I did. I am going before my time. I am not scared. I know if I become worse I could not cope. The disease could stabilise but I do not know that - I can’t take that chance. If I die five or 10 years later I would feel guilty. It is the law in the UK making people go before.

I want to be able to do it myself. Not in the last stages of my life. The definition of what you do in life is not what you do for yourself but what you do for other people. I believe what I am doing is in the long term interests of my family. I want my family to have a good life. I want them to move forward. A man wants the best for his family, not for himself. I want my kids to enjoy their lives. If they cared for me and I got better, fine. But I won’t. I know it sounds stupid, but it is the knowing there is an end to it.”

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