Voluntary Exits: David Brittain and wife Bridget, 86 and 84, did not want to lose their independence…



From The Mirror, Britain

A retired Royal Navy Commander and his devoted wife carried out a suicide pact because they didn’t want to go into care. David Brittain and wife Bridget, 86 and 84, took their own lives five years after becoming members of a suicide group called Exit. [Exit International link here.]

The couple, who had spent 65 years together, did not want to to lose their independence by being admitted to an old people’s home. An inquest heard Bridget – known as Biddy – used a ‘suicide bag’ to end her life before husband David did the same. Their daughters Susan Keeling, 57, and Judith Thompson, 59, gave a joint statement to the inquest. They said: ”Our parents were proud people, married over 60 years, and they depended and relied on each other. “Father hated it if mother went away for a night. They wanted to be together. They did not want to be apart, not live without each other.” Commenting on the successful suicide pact, they added: “We did not want them to do it. ”They had done what they said they would do. It was a massive shock. There is some consolation they are still together.”

The inquest heard David and Bridget joined Exit, which helps people plan suicides, in 2010. In the same year they bought the items which they would later used to take their own lives. The hearing was told the pensioners openly talked about suicide for five years but stopped mentioning it in the 18 months before their deaths. The exact trigger for their decision to take their lives is not known. But their elderly pet dog Tink had had to be put to sleep one week earlier. And David suffered a fall while attending a ballet performance but did not reveal this to his daughters. Their cleaner found them dead at their £750,000 home in Yelverton, Devon, last November. The coroner said they had put out ‘cushions to make themselves comfortable’.

On a dining room table police found documents about Exit, handwritten notes to their children and instructions on how to commit suicide. Their daughters told how the couple were “proud people” who wanted to remain together and not end up in residential care. Forensic pathologist Dr Deborah Cook found that Biddy died first closely followed by her husband. Daughter Susan, who attended the hearing on Friday, said her parents’ breakfast had only been ‘half laid’ out on the morning of their deaths. She speculated that her father had fallen and their mother could not lift him up and they then decided ‘this is it’. Coroner Mr Tomalin heard that two weeks before the pact Bridget received some “bad news healthwise but did not elaborate further”. He concluded they committed suicide saying: ”It would appear both were willing participants in the act that ended their lives.”

Exit spokesman Tom Curran refused to confirm whether the Brittains were members of the group. He told the Mirror: “We provide information to people who want to plan how to take their own lives peacefully. “The majority of people we help have illnesses like Motor Neurone Disease or Parkinson’s. We provide information on the basis that without it people can’t make an informed decision. We don’t provide the tools or equipment because technically that would be illegal. I have no clue how many people have used our methods to commit suicide.”

“Our advice is aimed at the terminally ill and elderly we wouldn’t feel comfortable offering advice to a teenager.”

The Exit International website states: “We believe this is a fundamental human right for every adult of sound mind, to be able to plan for the end of their life in a way that is reliable, peaceful and at a time of their choosing.”

[The article goes on to list helplines and websites for those “struggling to cope with mental health issues”… In fact, this is not a mental health issue. It is a completely healthy, rational, and sane decision they discussed for many years… -ds]