Teacher with no diagnosed illness took his own life at suicide clinic without family’s knowledge

Alastair Hamilton
Alastair Hamilton was 47 when he died

A teacher with no diagnosed illness took his own life at a Swiss suicide clinic without the knowledge of his family.

Alastair Hamilton, 47, died by lethal injection at the Pegasos clinic in Basel after telling his parents he was visiting a friend in Paris.

His mother Judith, 81, visited the clinic for an ITV documentary after it apologised for failings surrounding the case.

She told the broadcaster: “We weren’t given that chance to either be with him or in my case, drag him home, tooth and nail if I had to.”

Pegasos, which is run by activist Ruedi Habegger, does not require people to be ill to have their death request approved, unlike Dignitas.

Mr Hamilton, a chemistry teacher from Hampton, south-west London, had been battling with low moods before he flew out to the clinic.

He had given up working full-time and moved back in with his parents as he began to lose weight and feel increasingly tired.

Doctors were unable to diagnose him with any condition, despite several private health checks.

His brother Toby, 52, told The Mail on Sunday that he had started mentioning suicide “like he was talking about going for a pint down the pub”.

Mr Hamilton flew to Switzerland on Aug 10. His father Edward, 85, drove him to Gatwick Airport, believing that his son was meeting a friend in France.

‘Remember mum that I love you’

Mrs Hamilton told the newspaper that her son “put his arms around me and gave me a big kiss” the last time he saw her.

She added that he told her: “Always remember mum that I love you very much, I always have, I always will, no matter what.”

While abroad, Mr Hamilton stopped responding to his family’s calls, texts and voicemails and they soon phoned the police to report him as a missing person.

The Metropolitan Police traced Mr Hamilton to Pegasos through his bank details and were told by the clinic that he had died.

The clinic refused to provide police with the date of his death or any other information.

In emails to Mr Hamilton’s family, a Met Police sergeant criticised Pegasos for its “lack of compassion and lack of transparency”.

Judith Hamilton
Judith Hamilton said her son hugged and kissed her the last time she saw him alive - ITV

The family were not sent his ashes until October and have still not received his personal items or letters which the clinic said he had left for them.

Pegasos has since apologised and promised to inform families in the future about their relatives’ deaths, according to ITV.

Standing outside the clinic, Mrs Hamilton told ITV: “It’s not the best place to be for your last view of Earth, is it?

“Bless him. I just keep saying to myself: ‘Oh Alastair’.”

Swiss law has allowed assisted suicide since 1942, while it is against the law in the UK and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Between 2016 and 2022, 405 UK residents had assisted deaths in Switzerland.

According to a study, most of them had non-terminal illnesses, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and locked-in syndrome.

The Pegasos clinic in Basel
The Pegasos clinic has apologised to the family, according to ITV - ITV

Campaigner Dame Esther Rantzen has sparked a debate on assisted suicide in the UK after revealing she had joined Dignitas and was considering assisted dying as she battles stage four lung cancer.

Sir Keir Starmer has promised to give MPs a vote on legalising assisted dying if Labour wins the next general election.

The last parliamentary vote on assisted dying, which was defeated, took place in 2015.

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