Family tell of grief after father ends his own life at suicide clinic

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THE heartbroken family of a man who ended his own life at Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas have said they are in a state of “all consuming grief”.

Father-of-three Jeffrey Spector, 54, did not want to become a burden on his family after his cancer condition worsened. The businessman travelled to Dignitas in Zurich last Wednesday and said his final farewells before ending his life two days later.

Assisted suicide is illegal in Britain and anyone helping loved ones to die may face prosecution.

Mr Spector leaves behind widow, Elaine, 53, and three daughters, Keleigh, 21, Courtney, 19 and Camryn, 15, who said in a statement that they respected his decision despite their “difficult and painful time”.

The curtains were closed yesterday at the family home, a detached five-bedroom property in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire.

They have requested they be left alone as they come to terms with the death of their loved one.

Mr Spector was left devastated when the back ache he was suffering was diagnosed as a cancerous tumour at the top of his spine in 2009.

But the advertising and marketing executive took a “positive and proactive” approach researching ways in which he could obtain the best possible treatment for a poor long-term prognosis.

His family said that once it became clear there was no cure for his condition, he contacted Dignitas because he was “absolutely clear in his mind” he wanted to end his own life with dignity.

Mr Spector told family and friends as a proud, dignified, independent person he could not face the thought of being paralysed or becoming reliant on his family.

Earlier this year, Mr Spector’s condition deteriorated to such an extent that he believed he would soon be permanently and completely paralysed.

He made an appointment to go to the Dignitas clinic to end his own life, travelling to Zurich last Wednesday.

And on Friday after a final meal with his family Mr Spector ended his own life.

A statement from the family released through their solicitor, Lisa Shacklock, said: “Whilst we are now in a state of all consuming grief and miss Jeffrey very much, we also recognise that he is now at peace and away from the fear which surrounded him in the last few weeks of his life.

“Jeffrey ended his life with dignity and control which was his overwhelming desire.”

Mr Spector is understood to be one of more than 270 British people who have now travelled abroad to end their life, fuelling the ongoing debate about the right-to-die.

Dignitas was founded in 1998 to help people with terminal and incurable illnesses to kill themselves in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is permitted in specific circumstances.

Patients must prove that they are of sound judgment and be able to administer a lethal dose of a drug themselves.

A proposed change in the law in the UK to allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose for terminally ill patients with less than six months to live went before Parliament last year but did not become law.

Meanwhile, campaigners for and against proposed legislation to allow assisted suicide in Scotland will hold rallies outside Holyrood today ahead of a crucial vote on the issue.

MSPs are due to debate the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill, which would allow those with terminal or life-shortening illnesses to obtain help to end their suffering.