Society for Old Age Rational Suicide

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The Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (SOARS) is a pressure group that campaigns for doctor-assisted suicide for elderly people with serious health problems but who are not necessarily terminally ill. The group was founded by Dr Michael Irwin and Nan Maitland on December 10, 2009 (Human Rights Day) in Brighton, England.[1][2] The Society has had three annual lectures. The first was in 2010, by the moral philosopher Lady Mary Warnock. The second was given by journalist and author Virginia Ironside. The third lecture was given in 2012 by Silvan Luley from Dignitas.[3]

In 2011, Michael Irwin, who was struck off the medical register after assisting in eight suicides,[4] helped Maitland travel to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to allow her to die. Maitland did not have a terminal illness but had arthritis.[5][6] Irwin plans to assist a woman from Eastbourne, also suffering from arthritis, travel to Dignitas.[7]

The Sunday Times also reported that Evy Featherstone-Witty, mother of the businessman and educator Mark Featherstone-Witty and a "society belle" that had been photographed by Lord Snowdon, also took her own life despite not having any terminal illness and that she was sympathetic to the goals of the Society.[8]

Irwin and Maitland's actions have been opposed by both the anti-euthanasia group Care Not Killing and by the more mainstream pro-assisted dying campaign group Dignity in Dying.[9]


  1. ^ "Society for Old Age Rational Suicide". Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Beckford, Martin (16 August 2010). "'Dr Death' calls for assisted suicide for those who are not terminally ill". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Annual SOARS Lecture". Society for Old Age Rational Suicide. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Doughty, Steve (4 April 2011). "Woman chooses euthanasia over old age". IOL News. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Savill, Richard (3 April 2011). "British woman takes own life at Dignitas because she did not want to die of old age". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Profile: Michael Irwin, former GP who founded Society for Old Age Rational Suicide". Daily Telegraph. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Former Surrey GP 'to help arthritis sufferer end life'". BBC News. 7 September 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Templeton, Sarah-Kate (10 April 2011). "Snowdon pin-up picked time to die". Sunday Times. 
  9. ^ "Assisted suicide for OAP campaigner". The Guardian. 3 April 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011.