Euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in the United Kingdom, with formal prosecutorial guidance allowing discretion on a case by case basis. Attempts to legislate for the latter being rejected in England & Wales in 2006 and 2009, and in Scotland in 2010, but new bills await debate in both the Westminster and Holyrood Parliaments. The UK is a world leader in palliative and end of life care.
A show on the billing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year has turned the act of suicide into an entertainment spectacle.
Dr Philip Neitschke, a doctor who performs real-life assisted deaths, intended to take his practises to the stage, performing non-fatal demonstrations of how his machinery works.
Gill Pharaoh was a retired nurse, a wife and a mother of two.
She lived a healthy life, apart from some issues with tinnitus - and a feeling that she was "going over that hill" of age.
On July 12th, she chose to end her life before she had a chance to become what she deemed to be an "old lady". Explaining her decision, she reasoned that she did not want to become a burden to the NHS, taking up taxpayers money and a bed in hospital.
A new attempt to legalise assisted dying in the UK has become the sixth of its kind in the last 12 years. The new bill has strong parallels with Lord Falconer's failed version last year, but puts power in the hands of a court judge to decide if an individual is entitled to euthanasia.
The proposal is severely flawed, designed to lead to a 'rubber stamp' system whereby the judge will rely entirely on the decision of the doctor. With only a two-week window in which to make the decision, it is unclear how the judge - who will have little understanding of the home circumstances of the patient, or their interpretation of themselves as a burden - will be able to make an informed decision about the value of someone's life.