Couple's Pact Worries Anti-Suicide Groups

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2009 2:28 AM CDT
In this Dec. 15, 1967 file photo, British conductor Edward Downes and his wife, Joan, are seen with their new baby son, Caractacus, at the Royal Northern Hospital in London.    (AP Photo/PA, file)
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(Newser) – Anti-suicide campaigners fear that the death of a British conductor and his wife in a Swiss suicide clinic this week will cause a rise in "together forever" suicides among the elderly, the Times of London reports. Edmund Downes, 85, chose to die alongside his terminally ill wife. Church groups worry that his decision will inspire others to die when they could have many years of life left.

Assisted suicide "makes death a lifestyle choice, and places an intolerable burden on husbands and wives who could feel pressured into euthanizing themselves alongside their partners even though they are not unwell," said a representative of an anti-euthanasia group. Advocates of allowing assisted suicide disagree, saying that Downes' choice was his to make.