The double suicide of an elderly couple in France has provoked emotion and debate in the country as details of their plight hits the headlines.
French couple Georgette and Bernard Cazes were both aged 86. Last week they died in a double suicide at the luxurious, world-famous Hotel Lutetia in Paris.
They booked into the hotel Thursday night and died some time before breakfast-time Friday morning. Their suicide method was taking medication which allegedly induces a painless death.
They had planned the suicide down to the last detail even ordering breakfast to be delivered to their room to ensure that they were found sooner rather than later, reports The Local. Friday morning a member of staff at the hotel found the elderly couple dead. They were in bed, holding hands and two letters were close to the bodies.
One was a suicide note which contained a scathing attack on French law regarding assisted suicide. Monday La Parisien carried a report which included parts of that letter: "By what right can a person be forced into a cruel [situation], when they wish to end their life peacefully?. Isn’t my freedom only limited by the freedom of others? By what right can they prevent a person [from ending their life peacefully], when they’ve paid their taxes, have no debts to the state, have worked all their lives, and then done voluntary service?"
Since their death the couple's son has told the media his parents made an agreement to die together decades ago. They feared a life without each other more than death itself.
With the issue of a person's right to die back in the news in France, Monday Jean-Luc Romero, president of the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity, has addressed the media. He said that if euthanasia laws in France are not reformed many people will face a prolonged and painful death, and some, like the Cazes', will feel forced to take drastic action.
Neighbours and friends of the couple described them as "brilliant intellectuals". Bernard was an economist and philosopher, and Georgette a teacher of literature and Latin, who wrote school text-books.
One neighbour, Jeannine, said: "They had lived as they died: “Always arm in arm.”"
Early this year French President François Hollande promised to bring legislation regarding assisted suicide before parliament, before the end of 2013. In July Reuters reported: "President Francois Hollande reaffirmed his aim to legalise voluntary euthanasia on Monday after a majority of France's national ethics committee advised him not to let doctors help the terminally ill take their lives. Hollande said France would hold a national debate on the issue in coming months and his government would submit a bill in parliament by year's end that would go beyond the current law that bars doctors from providing assisted suicide".
Too late though for Mr and Mrs Cazes - RIP