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Thursday, September 24, 1998 Published at 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK


Suicide campaigners back Beadle

Campaigners are supporting Jeremy Beadle after his story appeared

Pro-euthanasia campaigners are backing TV entertainer Jeremy Beadle after he told a national newspaper how he helped a friend to commit suicide.

Mr Beadle, 50, told The Mirror how supplied an unnamed friend, suffering from motor neurone disease, with a the recipe for a cocktail of drugs to help him end his life.

The man, a 57-year-old salesman, later killed himself in a hotel room.

Helping someone kill themselves is a criminal offence under the Suicide Act 1961, and can carry a jail term of up to 14 years.

But the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, which is campaigning for a change in the law, is supporting the presenter's position.

'Very sympathetic'

"We are very sympathetic towards him. This underlines the need for a change and a need for the law to recognise that people like Jeremy Beadle's friend should have the option to end their lives peacefully," said campaigns manager Graham Nickson.

Mr Nickson added the society frequently heard from people with painful and terminal conditions like motor neurone disease who could not face living with their illness.

"Perversely, even though advances in medical technology mean people can live for longer, many simply don't want to prolong their suffering and die badly."

[ image: The Mirror breaks the story]
The Mirror breaks the story
Proud to have helped friend

Mr Beadle told the newspaper he was proud he had helped his friend - whom he had known since his 20s - to end his suffering.

They arranged to do it at a secret meeting in a hotel room.

He said: "He didn't want a failed suicide attempt. If he was going to go through with it, he was needed to do it properly. Trying to talk him out of it wouldn't have been helpful.

"I feel privileged to have been his friend and proud that I was able to assist his dignified exit. I was his sole confidante and I admired his courage.

Friendship more important than law

"I take full responsibility for what may be considered, 'assisting a suicide'. When it comes down to a question of friendship or the law, humanity and friendship are more important."

Beadle added: "This may seem a strange way to value a friendship, but I am proud of what I did. My friend died from a cocktail of drugs but I just provided him with information.

"The decision and supply was entirely down to him. I didn't actually purchase, obtain or deliver anything other than knowledge."

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