Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews Personal View

My mum’s decision changed my view of assisted dying

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 21 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1589
  1. Emma Young,
  2. consultant in emergency medicine
  1. Newham University Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, London E13 8SL
  1. emmayoung1{at}

It took time to understand what meaningful life was to her

On 6 February 2015 my sisters, aunt, stepfather, and I sat holding my mum’s hands as she died quickly, peacefully, and seemingly painlessly in the Dignitas house on the outskirts of Zurich.

My mum was a group psychoanalyst who defined herself, personally and professionally, by her ability to communicate brilliantly.1 In 2009 she noticed that she was struggling to find her words when talking and writing. Her handwriting had changed, and she had become unsteady on her feet.

She was thoroughly investigated and was given a diagnosis of neurodegenerative disease of unknown aetiology/atypical progressive supranuclear palsy. She received physiotherapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy for her progressive disabilities. Within a year of receiving her diagnosis, she started to talk of …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription