Disabled suicide left ‘no choice’

Rémy Salvat, 23, had written to President Sarkozy demanding the right to die.

13 August 2008

A disabled man who wrote to President Sarkozy demanding the right to die has killed himself prompting fresh debate over the legalisation of euthanasia.

Rémy Salvat, 23, who had suffered from rare condition mitochondrial degenerative disease since the age of six, overdosed on prescription drugs on August 10 – just days after receiving a response.

In a letter to the president written in May he said: “I know that one day I will lose my capacities.

“I don’t want to be forced to be trapped in a body kept alive like a prisoner.”

“Like Vincent Humbert [a 22-year-old tetraplegic whose mother helped him to die] I want to die before that point, to free myself from this suffering.”

He added: “I know that in France there is not a law to allow medical personnel to practise euthanasia but this must change.”

President Sarkozy responded on August 6: “For philosophical and personal reasons, I believe that we do not have the right to end our lives voluntarily.

“However I do not want to escape my responsibilities. I would like to see talks between the patient themselves, their doctor and their family, with respect to human values to try and find the most appropriate solution in every situation.”

His mother Régine Salvat was charged with attempted murder of her son in 1999 but the case was later dropped.

She said : “In a recording he left for us he asked us to follow his actions to make sure there was a real public debate about euthanasia and assisted suicide so that others would not have to live like him.”

Mrs Salvat added that her son had followed the case of Chantal Sébire who was found dead in her home in March having failed in a court case to be allowed the right to die.

Mrs Sébire had suffered from a painful incurable tumour which had severely disfigured her face and left her blind over the course of eight years.

The president of the l'Association pour le droit de mourir dans la dignité the association for the right to die with dignity Jean-Luc Romero said: “If we had a law in France like those in Holland and Belgium we would have ten thousand requests per year.

“We have real need of a law that respects the rights of everyone.”


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