‘Illness causes mum to take her life’

From the Bromsgrove Standard, September (report by Lucy Thomson)

A BARNT Green woman travelled to Switzerland to end her own life using the assisted suicide method which is legal over there, an inquest heard.


Nicola Caroline McNougher, 43, was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) after suffering a number of other debilitating illnesses which caused her severe and chronic pain, said Worcestershire Coroner Geraint Williams.

After choosing to end her own life, Mrs McNougher, who had two teenage sons aged 13 and 15, contacted Dignitas, a Zurich-based assisted suicide organisation and flew to Switzerland where she took an overdose of the sedative barbiturate. In Switzerland, prosecutions for assisted suicide can only be taken if the person is acting out of ‘self interest’.

Mrs McNougher originally told her husband, from whom she was separated, that she wanted him to accompany her to Switzerland to see a doctor about further treatment and the couple flew to Zurich on May 24.

In a statement read aloud by Mr Williams, her husband, Mr McNougher, told the court how on May 25, his wife had told him the real reason she wanted to travel abroad. He said she undertook two consultations with nurses to determine her state of mind.

Then on May 28, the couple travelled to a Dignitas room where, in front of a video camera, Mrs McNougher drank 15 grammes of liquid barbiturate, which is no longer prescribed in the UK. She fell asleep at 1.37pm and was confirmed

dead at 2pm.

In the statement, Mr McNougher said he tried to persuade his wife that there were other options, but she could not be deterred.

In an unusual move, Mr Williams also read a statement prepared by Mrs McNougher which declared she was living ‘an inhuman existence’ and stated that she ‘simply do not wish to exist’.

She said although she felt sad her children had lost their mother, she was glad they could now ‘live as children.’

Mrs McNougher also stressed she did not want the blame to rest with Dignitas, which had been ‘thorough and professional’.

"It should not be criticised, especially by those who do not have this disease.

"The focus should be on conducting proper medical research," said the statement by Mrs McNougher, who also revealed she was donating tissue for ME research.

Closing the inquest, Mr Williams expressed his condolences to Mr McNougher and his sons before recording a verdict that Mrs McNougher took her own life.

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