Suicide of multiple sclerosis sufferer

A MULTIPLE sclerosis sufferer ended his life at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland after telling a friend the illness was "catching up" with him, it was revealed yesterday.

Andrew Colgan, 42, died at a clinic in Zurich on December 9.

His mother Yvonne, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, told The Sentinel newspaper his condition had significantly worsened over the last year.

Describing her son as an "exceptional person", she said: "In the last 12 months Andrew's condition deteriorated rapidly.

"He spent more time on the floor than standing up.

"In two years he went from walking with a stick to a wheelchair. MS is a terrible disease."

Linda Walker, a friend of Mr Colgan, said he told her he was thinking of going to Switzerland to end his life about three months ago.

Speaking from her Staffordshire home yesterday, Miss Walker, who also has MS, said: "We were sitting having lunch and he just said, 'I'm getting so fed up and I am thinking of going to Zurich and committing suicide'.

"My reply back was, 'No, Andrew, you can do better than this', but he was determined. He was a very brave man.

"He couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel and I think he had stopped going out.

"I think he'd had enough of his MS. It's just so tragic.

"He had progressive MS and it's hard. He'd gone from walking on one crutch to walking on two crutches, to a wheelchair."

Miss Walker, 57, met Mr Colgan about 10 years ago, when she was working as a welfare officer for the North Staffordshire MS Society.

She added: "He was a lovely man, intelligent, bright and witty.

"If anybody ever wanted any help he would give it."

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, but in England and Wales it is a crime to "aid, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another" under the 1961 Suicide Act. The offence is punishable by a custodial sentence of up to 14 years.

New guidelines on the issue were published by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, in February.