Helping your son to die
Kiran Somani talks to Heather Pratten about her ill son's final wishes
Heather Pratten's son Nigel had a severe form of Huntington's disease. Her first husband also suffered from the disease for many years until his death. As Nigel's condition grew worse he lost his independence and with it his ability to enjoy the things that many of us take for granted. Last year, after struggling to come to terms with his illness, he decided that he couldn't go on. Nigel, who was 42, wanted to die and asked his mother to help him.
Not only did Heather Pratten have to deal with her son's death when he killed himself, she also had to deal with having helped him. She was on trial both personally and legally. I spoke to her hoping to understand her feelings about what happened.
Nigel was an artist who “always had a pencil in his hand.” Mrs Pratten recollected that he used to draw his own greetings