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3 Oct 2014
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A Peaceful End

Listen again to Lesley's full story as she talks in detail about her brother's illness and death

John Close was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. When the suffering became too much to bear he made the decision to take his own life...

John and Lesley at Burnham Beeches, 1975

John and Lesley at Burnham Beeches, 1975
- one of John's favourite photos

John with sisters Margaret and Lesley (right)

John with sisters Margaret and Lesley (right)

Lesley Close always had a good relationship with her brother John, despite the fact that he was nine years older than her. John had been fun to grow up with, was musical, sporty and excellent company. When his body began to show signs of wear and tear as he reached 50, no one was particularly surprised. Looking back now on these signs of wear and tear, Lesley realises that the cramps, severe headaches, and speech problems were probably early symptoms of Motor Neurone Disease (MND)but it took some time to get this officially diagnosed.

As John's health deteriorated, he told his sister that he wanted to take his own life. The problem was how to do this. Then, in January this year, John heard on the news that Reginald Crew who had MND, had travelled to Switzerland with his wife Wyn to die with the help of the "assisted suicide group" Dignitas. John knew that when the time came, this is what he wanted to do.

Very early in the morning of 26 May, John and his friend Peggy, Lesley and her partner, Michael flew to Zurich. At the flat owned by Dignitas, John died that afternoon after taking a fatal overdose of barbiturates prepared by a doctor.

Lesley has no doubts that this was the best way for John to end his life, "It was peaceful, it was dignified and it was loving because we were all there holding his hands and we were making sure he knew how much he was loved and how much he would be missed."

Listen again to Lesley's full story as she talks in detail about her brother's illness and death

More information
Motor Neurone Disease Association
Voluntary Euthanasia Society
BBC Woman's Hour - Wyn Crew
BBC 3 Counties The Journey
Sound Click - John Close

Radio 4 Action Line 0800 044 044
for details of MND groups offering support and advice

Join the discussion on the Home Truths Message Board

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