The GP known as Dr Death wants to set up Britain’s first suicide ‘support group’, it emerged today.
Dr Michael Irwin, who was given the name after helping people visit a euthanasia clinic, is launching ‘Die-alogue’ which will share advice on euthanasia, Swiss suicide clinic Dignitas and end-of-life care.
Retired Dr Irwin, who lives in Surrey, said he hoped members of the club, which is due to launch next month in Hove, East Sussex, would help each other travel abroad to commit suicide if necessary.
The 80-year-old doctor said: ‘The topic of rational suicide should be discussed. I want people to provide one another with financial, moral and emotional support.
‘People could support each other by travelling abroad to the Dignitas clinic. Sometimes the person who wants to go to Dignitas has no one to help them. This group would aim to help that.’
Dr Irwin does not advocate suicide in healthy people but believes those who assist people with a terminal illness should not be prosecuted for doing so.
The group will also discuss care plans should a person suffer a serious illness, such as locked-in syndrome or a stroke.
Dr Irwin said: ‘Some people want to stay alive – they want all the care they can receive – whereas others do not. This group would help people make these decisions while they can.’
Dr Irwin told how the idea for the group came from the Brighton and Hove Fabian Society, where he gave a talk recently.
He has also been in contact with an 83-year-old dementia sufferer who plans to die at Dignitas. The British man would be the first to end his life at the Swiss clinic purely because of dementia.
In 2011 Dr Irwin revealed how a 91-year-old from Eastbourne had contacted him about Dignitas. He did not take her to Switzerland but police officers interviewed him, making no arrest.
Dr Irwin has been investigated in the past over assisted suicide – an offence carrying a 14-year jail sentence – but has never been arrested.
Around 150 Britons are thought to have died at Dignitas, which exploits liberal Swiss laws on assisted dying.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: ‘The Suicide Act 1961 states that a person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide, shall be liable to prosecution. We have an obligation to investigate any specific offence that is alleged to us.’