Second elderly couple commit suicide in Paris

Just days after a couple, both aged 86, took their own lives in a luxury Paris hotel room, reopening a debate in France on euthanasia laws, reports emerged on Tuesday that another elderly couple, also in their eighties, had committed suicide.

Second elderly couple commit suicide in Paris
A second couple, aged in their eighties, committed suicide together at their home in Paris on Monday. Is a change in the law needed? File photo: Jazz Beaunola/flickr

The couple were found at their home in Paris on Monday morning, police sources told the French media.

The 81-year-old and 84-year-old were found by their cleaner in their bedroom of their home in the seventh arrondissement in the French capital.

“It is clear the couple committed suicide by taking medication,” the police source said, who also confirmed that they had left a note explaining the reasons behind their actions.

One neighbour described them as a "nice elderly couple".

Another said the woman suffered from cancer and walked with crutches. "But they went to the theatre and liked to go out," she told AFP.

Questions will no doubt be asked whether their decision to end their lives prematurely may have been influenced by the widely-reported suicide of a couple, both aged 86, at a luxury hotel last Friday.

The couple, Georgette and Bernard Cazes, booked themselves into the Lutetia on Thursday to spend their final night together, before bringing an end to their lives. They were found by staff the next morning.

On Monday it was revealed they had left a letter for French legal authorities which included a scathing attack on France’s prohibition of euthanasia.

“By what right can a person be forced into a cruel [situation], when they wish to end their life peacefully?” asked the letter, parts of which were quoted in Le Parisien on Monday.

Although little is currently known of the second couple and their motives, their decision to commit suicide may well be used as further ammunition by the likes of Jean-Luc Romero, president of the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity.

On Monday, Romero told The Local that without a change in the law those who want to end their lives before a prolonged and painful sickness or period of decline, would continue to be forced to use drastic means to do so.

"Unfortunately, the fate of this couple [Georgette and Bernard Cazes] is typical. There are many elderly French people who are forced every year to take their own lives in very unpleasant ways," he said, adding that this case proved beyond doubt that the time had come for French law to change.

"Quite simply, we need a new law which allows people in similar circumstances to this couple, to be able to seek assistance from doctors and to pass away peacefully and with dignity, in the company of their loved ones," he added.

Assisted deaths are either legal or have been decriminalised in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and The Netherlands.

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