A New Yorker caught off guard by the suicides of his two sisters at a $11,000 euthanasia clinic says he’s upset that Swiss law allowed them to take “the easy way out”.
Palliative medicine doctor Lila Ammouri, 54, and nurse Susan Frazier, 49, became “suicidal” after suffering from chronic insomnia, dizziness and back pain and decided to end their lives on February 11 at the Pegasos Association in Basel.
Cal Ammouri, 60, tells The Independent His sisters were cremated and asked to have their ashes “scattered in the countryside” in Switzerland, which deprived him of the opportunity to hold a service.
Mr Ammouri said he was struggling to gather more information from authorities in the United States and Switzerland and that the State Department had become “defensive”.
“They say, ‘Well, it’s legal in this country.’ They know it’s not legal here, they know both political parties frown upon it in America.
“There are other ways to deal with your problems than this. We know that from America. Everything is allowed in Switzerland, maybe they just like it.
“You can walk into a bank with millions of dollars in your briefcase, they don’t think anything of it, they don’t raise eyebrows. This is where the FBI wants to chat with you about money laundering. I don’t think I want to live in a country like that.”
Mr Ammouri said he will never recover from the grief of losing his only remaining relatives.
“The pain will not go away over time. Not something like that, it’s too much. Just too devastating for anyone.
“I still can’t accept it, it’s a tragedy, it should never have happened.
“I’ll keep at it. It’s difficult, we have to survive, we have to carry on, we have to carry on whether we like it or not. But I cannot accept that.”
dr Ammouri and Ms Frazier contacted euthanasia advocacy group Exit International in September 2020 for help on ending their lives, director Philip Nitschke said The Independent On Sunday.
“They had both decided that they were tired of life and it was time to go.
“What was very clear was that dying together was non-negotiable, it was very important to them.”
The sisters revealed Dr. Nitshcke also said they had gone through a “troubled” period in their lives.
“They didn’t give us many details, but they said they helped each other through a difficult time and saw each other as each other’s best friends.”
They became members of Exit International in October 2020, who provided them with DIY manuals on how to take their own lives.
The sisters were concerned that the procedure might not be successful and he put them in touch with Pegasos, one of the few clinics that does not require proof of a terminal illness.
They became members of Pegasos in March 2021 and originally planned to travel to Switzerland soon after, but faced delays as Covid-19 cases rose in Europe and the US.
dr Ammouri and Mrs. Frazier flew to Basel on February 3 without informing their brother, colleagues or friends.
At Pegasos, they underwent a full psychiatric evaluation and a “fairly thorough review of their records” to ensure the information they provided was consistent.
On its website, Pegasos “strongly” recommends that anyone considering ending their life should inform their family, even if they know the decision will be rejected.
In a statement to the independent, Pegasos director Reudi Habegger said the organization worked closely with medical professionals and local authorities before realizing patients could die.
“After careful clarification and within the framework of official regulations, we respectfully accompany people with unbearable suffering on their final journey.”
dr Nitschke said he was surprised they hadn’t told Mr Ammouri and that it was “extremely rare” for siblings to die together.
The Daily Mail reported that Dr. Ammouri placed her $1 million Arizona home in a family trust fund less than two weeks before her trip to Switzerland, allowing ownership to be transferred to next of kin without a formal court hearing.
If you suffer from stress and isolation or have trouble coping with it, The Samaritans offers support. You can speak to someone confidentially free of charge by phone on 116 123 (UK and ROI) or by email firstname.lastname@example.org visit the Samaritans website for details of your nearest branch.
If you are a US resident and you or someone you know needs mental health help right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a hotline near you.