Struck-off British psychiatrist has helped seven people commit suicide in two years – despite only ONE having a terminal illness
- Dr Colin Brewer was struck off for inappropriate drug prescribing in 2006
- Despite this assisted dying clinic Dignitis accepted his assessments
- He said the seven were mentally alert enough to make the decision
- The psychiatrist has also claimed to have helped five others die
- Revelations are contained in a book called, 'I'll See Myself out, Thank You'
Psychiatrist Dr Colin Brewer has detailed how he helped seven people die in the last two years
A British doctor told yesterday how he helped seven people to die at suicide clinics including Dignitas – only one of whom had a terminal illness.
Over the past two years, psychiatrist Dr Colin Brewer has provided the medical reports which the seven needed to end their lives.
His assessments, stating the patients were mentally alert enough to know what they were doing, were accepted by Swiss assisted dying clinics even though Dr Brewer was struck off the UK medical register eight years ago.
The 73-year-old is the first doctor to speak so openly about how he helped people to die.
His revelations, in a book he has co-edited, called I’ll See Myself Out, Thank you, will horrify opponents of assisted suicide.
Supporters argue people with terminal illnesses should be allowed to opt to die before disease ravages their body or mind.
But if Dr Brewer’s account is typical, it suggests only a small proportion of those choosing to end their lives this way are terminally ill.
Among the seven people were Marjorie, a former businesswoman in her nineties, who lived in severe pain that could not be diagnosed or treated.
A man in his sixties called Eddie, a retired professional, was going blind and wanted to die before he lost his sight.
Then there was Henry, in his eighties and with early Alzheimer’s, and Charlotte, a WI chairman with Alzheimer’s, who wanted to die before she had to leave her home.
Speaking about Jacques, a retired academic in his seventies who suffered arthritis, heart disease and high blood pressure, Dr Brewer said: ‘It sounds no worse than in most people of his age. But he dreaded the possibility of a sudden deterioration … that would deprive him of the mental capacity to decide on the manner of his death.’
The only one of the seven with a terminal illness was Nick, who had motor neurone disease and was told he had less than a year to live.
An exterior view of the Swiss assisted dying clinic, Dignits, where Mr Brewer provided medical reports to
In the book Dr Brewer writes: ‘In the last year or two, I have carried out psychiatric assessments for a few people who were planning to go to Switzerland for medically assisted rational suicide.
‘Nearly all these people had led lives that marked them out as exemplary and high-achieving … They wanted deaths that matched their lives, with a minimum of pain … but also well-organised, civilised, considerate of others, not too long and, above all, dignified.’
In about three other cases, Dr Brewer raised doubts about whether a patient was mentally fit to make the decision, he told The Sunday Times.
In 2006, he was struck off by the General Medical Council for inappropriate drug prescribing, including heroin substitutes to his addiction patients. He is not allowed to practise as a doctor in the UK. Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, recently said she was less likely to prosecute doctors assisting in the death of patients not under their direct care. Critics say Mr Brewer has exploited this.
A spokesman for campaign Care Not Killing said the main doctors’ groups ‘vigorously oppose’ changing assisted dying laws.
He said the Royal College of Psychiatrists argues suicidal people need support and ‘not the keys to the drugs cabinet’.
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