An 83-year-old man in the early stages of dementia has become the first person in Britain so diagnosed to end his life at an assisted-suicide clinic, reports the BBC. The unidentified man did so with the support of his family—in fact, his wife made the trip with him to the Dignitas facility in Switzerland, reports the Independent. (Assisted suicide remains illegal in Britain.) He also did so with the blessing of retired doctor and euthanasia advocate Michael Irwin, who helped the man arrange a psychiatric evaluation to make sure that he still had the mental capacity to make the decision.
"The condition of dementia is no different to those other medical problems," writes Irwin in a defense of his actions in the Telegraph. "People in their 80s and older who suffer from these problems, and who are still mentally competent, and who may not have many more normal years, should be able to make the decision to die at a time of their choosing." A doctor who disagrees tells the BBC that such moves will put pressure on "vulnerable people" to end their lives because they fear being a burden.