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Nan Maitland, a founder of a group supporting elderly suicide, has taken her life to avoid prolonged suffering in her old age. She suffered from severe arthritis.
Maitland, born in 1926, used to live in Kent, where she brought up her three children before moving to London 40 years ago. She dispensed advice on suicide from her home in Chelsea. Recently, she turned her administrative skills to arranging her own death.
At the end of February she calmly and without visible emotion said goodbye to her loved ones and left London for Switzerland with two fellow right-to-die campaigners. She left behind her three children and a sister. Her husband, from whom she was separated, is also understood still to be alive.
In a note, Maitland wrote to friends: “For some time, my life has consisted of more pain than pleasure and, over the next months and years the pain will be more and the pleasure less. I have a great feeling of relief that I will have no further need to struggle through each day in dread of what further horrors may lie in wait. For many years, I have feared the long period of decline, sometimes called ‘prolonged dwindling‘, that so many people unfortunately experience before they die.”
Maitland was a founder member of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (Soars) UK which campaigns for the law to allow elderly people to have doctor-assisted suicides, even if they are not terminally ill.
There are two organisations offering death to foreigners in Switzerland. Dignitas and Ex International, a smaller clinic in Bern. Dignitas, founded in 1998 by the lawyer Ludwig Minelli, has so far helped more than 1,000 people die, including at least 115 Britons.

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