Page last updated at 17:58 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 18:58 UK

Parents speak on assisted suicide

Daniel James
Daniel James was paralysed during a training session

The parents of a paralysed rugby player who travelled to a Swiss assisted suicide clinic have said their son had tried several times to kill himself.

Daniel James, 23, of Worcester, died on 12 September in a clinic where he had travelled with the intention of killing himself, an inquest heard.

Julie and Mark James said he did not want to live a second-class existence.

West Mercia Police said they had been in contact with a man and a woman following the death.

'Welcome relief'

BBC News correspondent Fiona Trott said there were reports that the man and woman being questioned were Mr James' mother and father, although this had not been confirmed by the family's solicitor.

Mr James' parents, from Sinton Green, Worcester, said their son had tried several times to kill himself before he "gained his wish".

Describing him as an intelligent young man of sound mind, they said his death was "no doubt a welcome relief from the 'prison' he felt his body had become and the day-to-day fear and loathing of his living existence".

"This is the last way that the family wanted Dan's life to end but he was, as those who know him are aware, an intelligent, strong-willed and some say determined young man.

Daniel James (Centre)

"Over the last six months he constantly expressed his wish to die and was determined to achieve this in some way."

Assisted suicide is illegal in the UK, although the practice is tolerated by the authorities in Switzerland.

The clinic Dignitas, where all known British assisted suicides have taken place, said that due to privacy laws it could not disclose whether Mr James was one of its members.

He is believed to be the youngest person from Britain to have gone to Switzerland to take his own life, according to a spokesman for Dignity in Dying.

Mr James suffered a collapsed spine in a scrum during a training session at Nuneaton Rugby Club in March 2007.

The former pupil at Worcester Royal Grammar School was paralysed from the chest down. An inquest into his death was opened and adjourned on 19 September.

'Great lad'

A trust set up in his name after his accident has raised nearly 25,000 for spinal research. Mr James also played for the England Universities rugby team and England Students team.

He made one appearance for England Universities in 2005 and five appearances for England Students between 2006 and 2007.

President of Nuneaton Rugby Club, Keith Howells, said he was convinced Mr James would have made the main England team.

He said: "The guy was a fantastic player. It's affected some of our players badly."

Team manager John Green described him as a "true rugby-type character" who was equally competent as a hooker or as a flanker.

Mr James was taking a degree, thought to be in construction engineering management, at Loughborough University.

One friend on the social networking website Facebook said he was the "epitome of a great rugby lad".

The tribute said he was "tough, uncompromising, driven and skilful on the pitch, yet off it a lovely bloke with a heart of gold".




SEE ALSO
Player's assisted suicide probed
17 Oct 08 |  Hereford/Worcs
Dignitas: Swiss suicide helpers
24 Jan 06 |  Health
'It is a desperately sad case'
17 Oct 08 |  Health

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