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Robert Cowie

June 20, 2011

Police are trying to establish the circumstances surrounding the death of a Glasgow man whose mother took him to a Swiss clinic to die.

Helen Cowie told BBC Scotland’s Call Kaye show she helped her son Robert, 33, commit suicide after he was left paralysed from the neck down.

Mrs Cowie, of Cardonald, Glasgow, said her son went to Dignitas in October and “had a very peaceful ending”.

Strathclyde Police said they were not investigating the death at this time.

However, a spokesman added: “The matter is being given consideration in an effort to establish the circumstances.”

Mrs Cowie said her son was paralysed in a swimming accident three years ago.

She told the radio programme: “His life was terrible, he was suffering every day.

“He was just a head, he didn’t want to be there anymore. He had been a big, fit healthy boy.

“We asked him not to do it, but it was his decision.”

 Mrs Cowie said Robert had not been a burden to the family, but she agreed to help him because he was “really unhappy”.

She described Monday’s BBC documentary Choosing To Die, presented by author and Alzheimer’s sufferer Terry Pratchett, as “brilliant” and empathised with the mother who helped her disabled son to die in the television soap Emmerdale.

Mrs Cowie described the Dignitas experience as “wonderful, relaxed, peaceful and happy”, and they listened to the Oasis song Listen Up as her son died.

The song includes the line: “One fine day I’m gonna leave you all behind. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had more time.”

She said: “We were in Zurich for four days with my three sons and his friend, and one of my sons said it was the happiest he had seen his brother in three years.

“I would rather have been able to do it in this country. That really upsets me that I had to take my son to Switzerland, and I had to leave his body there and wait for the ashes to come back.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. *Stargazer permalink
    June 22, 2011 3:17 am

    This really hit home……………………
    She told the radio programme: “His life was terrible, he was suffering every day.
    He was just a head, he didn’t want to be there anymore. He had been a big, fit healthy boy.
    We asked him not to do it, but it was his decision.”

    I believe that if I were in that same situation, I would feel like Robert.

    And at the end of the article……………..
    She said: “We were in Zurich for four days with my three sons and his friend, and one of my sons said it was the happiest he had seen his brother in three years.
    I would rather have been able to do it in this country. That really upsets me that I had to take my son to Switzerland, and I had to leave his body there and wait for the ashes to come back.”

    How much – not just in Euros but in heartache – did that trip to Switzerland cost the Cowies and their friends?
    I believe if I was in the same situation as Robert, I would want the right to be allowed to die, in my home, at a time of my choosing, with my loved-ones to see me over to the other side – and it not cost them a small fortune and possibly their liberty in helping me to do so.

    Urgent, Stringent, Compassionate Legislation is required – the right too choose should not only be championed but bravely facilitated by the establishment – with safeguards to protect the vulnerable.

    There are many sick and disabled people who are at peace with the hand they’ve been dealt and would never contemplate taking the government up on Assisted Dying, should it be legislated for.

    But I’m sure there are many of us, poorly or in good health, who believe that very ill people in the UK, living in what for them are intolerable circumstances, must have their dignity respected.
    Instead of leaving it to the very aptly-named Dignitas clinic and the people who work there to facilitate, some 800 miles (as the crow flies) from Glasgow.

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