Wednesday, 3 May 2017

My Life, My Choice

Image result for assisted suicide

The Sunday Herald has invited Colin Campbell to write a diary explaining the decision to travel to Switzerland to voluntarily end his own life at the Lifecircle clinic in Basel.   

Colin wants the right to die with dignity in his home country, but the Scottish Parliament has yet to meet the challenge of devising legislation that will allow people to exercise that choice while protecting the vulnerable from exploitation which other countries have been able to do quite successfully, of course.

Otherwise, Colin would not be forced to travel all the way to Switzerland to fulfil his own wishes.


'I am beginning my journey towards death': MS sufferer counts down towards day at Swiss suicide clinic

'I am beginning my journey towards death - it will be over in less than seven weeks hopefully'
Colin Campbell

MS suffers writes diary for Sunday Herald charting his journey toward suicide in Swiss clinic

So the countdown to the morning of Thursday June 15 has begun.

That will be the day that hopefully I will be at the Lifecircle clinic in Basel, Switzerland to voluntarily end my life.

Already one week has passed since I spoke from Switzerland with Sunday Herald journalist Helen McArdle bringing my case to public attention. The primary progressive multiple sclerosis I have is now in what I call ‘turbo’ mode. That means for me that reaching June 15 is like a marathon with the ‘finishing line’ being in Switzerland. The past week for me has been extremely busy as there is a huge amount of media interest in the legalisation of voluntary assisted suicide in Britain. Hopefully the Scottish parliament will prove to be more compassionate and enlightened than the Westminster parliament. As a man from Inverness, I want one simple thing: the right to die with dignity in my own country. That will only happen if our parliamentarians accept the majority of people want the choice of voluntary assisted suicide to be available in the event of developing a progressive and incurable neurological disease. Highlighted this week has been the plight of Omid a British Iranian man afflicted by multiple system atrophy (MSA).

Omid is confined to bed with loss of use of his legs and hands. His speech is becoming increasingly slurred and he requires his food to be liquidised and given to him by a nurse. Omid is aged 54 but realises he cannot do anything of value to him so he wants to die.

Much of this week has also meant me explaining that voluntary assisted suicide is not a ‘slippery slope’ to ending the lives of elderly or vulnerable people. The safeguards, in the new draft bill, ensure it is impossible to request a voluntary suicide for yourself if you do not ‘have capacity’ to make an informed judgement. Likewise it is impossible to request a voluntary assisted suicide for someone else.

Applications must include photographic identity and date of birth of the applicant. Medical history must be provided that is current. An outline of life history is also required to assist the doctors in making a decision. It is also essential that people realise the doctors do not administer the life ending prescription. It is only the patient who does so. And after death there has to be a formal identification of the deceased. It will be done by a family member or close friend who will make the identification. Thereafter the funeral arrangements will begin.

A regular question to me from the media is how I am coping and what I am doing to occupy my time.

My humorous answer is being used by some journalists. I liken myself to being a condemned man in his cell on death row. I now add to this that I need some company so am on the lookout for a little mouse that I can befriend.

Fortunately though I am not self-obsessed so enjoy being part of the campaign that will give hope to the many people whose lives have become dreadful as a result of incurable illness.

Many reading this article may be hobbyist musicians like me who can happily spend hours each day practicing or improving their ability with the musical instrument of their choice. Similarly as I have found out with the journalists who have interviewed me we all love some form of music.

If they hadn’t had to go to their next assignment we could have talked for many hours about music.

And there was even time for a ‘sing song’ with one writer. The idea was 'what was the first song we had memories of'. The result was us together singing ‘Chirpy, chirpy, cheep, cheep’ by Scottish band ‘Middle of the Road’. We talked of how wonderful it is to have all our legally purchased favourite songs on our mobile devices.

So looking ahead to the next week there is guaranteed to be further enquiries from individuals or the media and my biggest challenge may be not falling down the flight of stairs in my flat.

Stairs have always been a big part of my life so I fondly look back to a company I worked for. Our office was on the 15th floor so a great chance to keep fit. Most people used the lift but my colleague Andy liked to take on a challenge.

I offered him a race up the fifteen flights of stairs concluding with fifty push ups. Management soon put an end to our fun by prohibiting our races.

They assured us employment law prohibited an employer from allowing dangerous activities on its premises. Most employers do not want their employees to die at the place where they work.

But the issue of stairs access becomes very relevant for those whose lives have become blighted by illness. Too often there is little consideration of wheelchair users. So to prevent infirm people further losing their independence the law now requires wheelchair access in public areas as well as shops and restaurants and low kerbs on pavements. Believe me, such simple improvements can reduce the prospect of people wanting to have voluntary assisted suicide.

Colin has asked that anyone wishing to help donate to the MS Society. To do so please visit

My Life, My Choice (30/04/17)

Image result for assisted suicide

The BBC reports that a man from Inverness who has a life limiting condition has decided to travel to Switzerland so that he can end his life at a time of his own choosing, instead dying a slow and lingering death.

Now Colin Campbell seems of sound mind to me, he's not vulnerable, nor is he under any  pressure to consider ending his own life - yet anyone in Scotland helping Colin to fulfil his own wishes runs the risk of becoming a convicted criminal.  

The challenge for our lawmakers is to put a system in place that protects the vulnerable while allowing people like Colin to end their lives peacefully without turning those who help them into criminals.

Inverness man tells of assisted suicide decision

BBC Highlands & Islands

Image copyright - SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY Image caption - Assisted suicide is unlawful in Scotland

An Inverness man has spoken of his decision to end his own life in a clinic in Switzerland.

Colin Campbell, 56, has primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

He said his health had rapidly deteriorated over the last two years and he wanted to choose to die before he was not in a fit state to do so.

Assisted suicide is unlawful in Scotland. A move to change the law was defeated in a vote in the Scottish Parliament in 2015.

Mr Campbell, who is booked to go to a clinic in Basil next month, was first diagnosed with MS when he was 34, but had previously suspected he had a health condition because of a deterioration in his ability to play sports.

'Condemned man'

He uses a walking frame to move around his flat and a wheelchair when travelling outside of his home.

Mr Campbell, who formerly worked in IT, still has use of his hands and passes his time playing guitar.

However, he told BBC Radio Scotland's Kaye Adams Programme: "Having primary progressive MS means it will always get progressively worse and will eventually lead to loss of all functionality.

"I will lose use of my hands and won't be able to do anything. My voice will become slurred and I will not be able to feed myself."

Mr Campbell said he felt like a "condemned man confined in his cell on death row".

Cold and dark

He told the programme that requiring two stays in hospital within two months over the winter had convinced him that he did not want to face another winter.

On one of the two occasions, he had flu and had collapsed while trying to go to the toilet. He lay on the floor of his flat "in the cold and dark" until his landlord happened by chance to knock at his door.

Mr Campbell said he did not believe stem cell therapy was an option for him, but appreciated that there were people in similar situations to him that were using crowdfunding to pay for this type of treatment.

In 2015, MSPs rejected the Assisted Suicide Scotland Bill by 82 votes to 36 in a free vote following a debate at Holyrood.

The bill would have allowed those with terminal illnesses to seek the help of a doctor to end their own life.

Vulnerable people

Supporters said the plan had widespread public backing but critics argued a change in the law would be unethical.

Dr Gordon MacDonald, a spokesman for the Care Not Killing campaign, told the Kaye Adams Programme he believed assisted suicide should continue to be unlawful.

He said that in Oregon, a US state where assisted suicide is lawful, there were more than 2,000 requests last year for assisted suicide. However, only 133 people went ahead.

Dr MacDonald said: "This suggests a lot of people will express a desire, but don't choose to do so."

He said vulnerable people could be pressured into opting for assisted suicide.

Mr Campbell said safeguards could be put in place to allow the procedure to happen in Scotland.