Arizona sisters who went missing in Switzerland died by assisted suicide, authorities say

Doctor Lila Ammouri and nurse Susan Frazier died ‘within the legal framework’, Swiss law enforcement say

Arizona sisters who went missing in Switzerland confirmed dead
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Two Arizona sisters who were reported missing by their family in Switzerland died by assisted suicide, authorities say.

Lila Ammouri, a doctor, and registered nurse Susan Frazier flew to Basel, Switzerland on 3 February, and had been due to return to the United States on 13 February.

When they failed to show up for work at Aetna Health Insurance in Phoenix, friends and family appealed for help to find them.

Lila Ammouri, a palliative care doctor from Arizona, died by assisted suicide in Switzerland

Their deaths were confirmed by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs on 19 February, but no cause of death was given.

A spokesman for the Basel-Landschaft Public Prosecutor’s Office confirmed to The Independent that the sisters had died by suicide “within the legal framework”.

“The public prosecutor’s office of the Canton of Basel-Landschaft confirms that the two US women died during their stay in Switzerland. They both committed suicide – with the help of an assisted suicide organisation,” Michael Lutz told The Independent.

Mr Lutz said assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland “under certain conditions”.

“In the specific case, the on-site checks by the authorities revealed that the assisted suicide took place within the legal framework, so that the Basel-Landschaft public prosecutor’s office did not open a criminal investigation.”

Brother Cal Ammouri told The Independent he had last spoken to his sisters a few weeks before they travelled to Switzerland, and they had appeared health and happy.

He had not been told an official cause of death by the US Consular services, he said.

“Nobody else really knows the specifics,” he told The Independent.

Mr Ammouri, who lives in New York City, said he was still coming to terms with the loss of his two sisters, who were his only living family.

Both sisters were adored by everyone who met them, he said.

“They were really special. They never hurt anybody. They were always helping everybody. They would go out of their way to help people, which is rare.

According to an online profile, Dr Ammouri, 54, was a hospice and palliative care specialist in Flagstaff, Arizona.

She practised at Flagstaff Medical Center where she was “board certified in Hospice Care and Palliative Medicine”.

Ms Frazier, 49, was remembered as a “smart, fast” operator at work who had recently been promoted to the nurse leadership team at Aetna Health Insurance. One friend said Ms Frazier was always smiling, and “could laugh the stress away”.

The two sisters were described as “best friends” who did everything together.

After they were reported missing, it was initially suspected they might have been the victims of foul play.

Longtime friend David Biglari said the last text he received from Ms Ammouri had spelling mistakes that were completely out of character.

Friend David Biglari said he became suspicious after he received a text from one of the missing sisters with an uncharacteristic spelling mistake

He told KPHO that friends had “reason to believe” someone else was texting them from the sisters’ devices.

In a separate interview, Dr Biglari said red flags had been raised when the sisters didn’t turn up for work.

“Are they being held somewhere, hostage? Held for ransom?”

According to Swissinfo.ch, around 1,300 people died by assisted suicide in Switzerland in 2020. Most are carried out with the assistance of the two largest assisted suicide organisations, Dignitas and Exit.

In the United States, physician-assisted dying is legal in Washington, DC and nine states: California, Oregon, Colorado, Vermont, New Mexico, Maine, New Jersey, Hawaii and Washington.

Legislation has also passed to allow assisted dying in Montana, but its status is disputed after a 2009 court ruling.

Euthanasia, which involves another person administering a lethal dose, is banned under federal law.

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