Heather Pratten

Heather tells how she helped her son Nigel to die

My son Nigel had the hereditary degenerative neurological disorder, Huntington’s Disease.

We’d both watched my husband die from the illness and knew the distress and agony it could cause. Nigel knew what was going on and that he did not want to be around to suffer anymore. On his 42nd birthday he told me the best present I could give him would be to end his life.

He didn’t want to die alone. I tried to persuade him against it but I would not let him die alone and promised him I would not let him fail. Looking back I still believe that it was his right to choose.

Other people have tried to end their lives and failed and then been left in an even worse situation than they were previously in. I was put on bail for murder for being with Nigel and putting a pillow over his face when he lost consciousness from the overdose.

In the end I was charged with aiding and abetting a suicide and received a conditional discharge for 1 year. I wish that Nigel could have asked a doctor to help him to die legally and peacefully.



Read about Heather’s experience on the BBC

Read the Student BMJ with Heather

In The Daily Telegraph

In The Independent

Listen to an interview with Heather on BBC Radio 4

Watch Heather’s contribution to our Campaign video Act Against Suffering


The accounts made in the personal stories section of the Dignity in Dying website reflect the views of the authors. The views of Dignity in Dying may differ.


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