Fmr. parliamentarian, wife commit joint suicide

Former CDA parliamentarian Frans Jozef van der Heijden and his wife ended their lives together on Friday at the ages of 78- and 76-years respectively. They explain their decision to do so in an obituary published in newspaper AD on Tuesday.

"The discussion on a self-chosen end of life is still dominated by the question of whether people who think that they have completed their lives, may end that life", the obituary reads. "Most obvious is whether people who feel that their lives threaten to end in great suffering and burden (including due to severely degraded care) may end that life now that they not yet suffer and burdent themselves and others."

The CDA does not find it appropriate to comment on the couple's suicide at this stage. "Our thoughts are with the relatives and we wish the family and friends a lot of strength", the party said. CDA party chairman Ruth Peetoom describes Van der Heijden as a passionate and authentic CDA member. "I am deeply touched and sad", she said, according to

Van der Heijden was member of the Rotterdam City Council from 1970 and CDA parliamentarian from 1982 to 1998. He was the spokesperson for Home Affairs, elderly policy, police and mental health care, among other things. In 1998 he left parliament, but returned to the Rotterdam City Council. He left the Rottercam council in 2006. Van der Heijden was made a Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion and Knight in the Order of Oranje-Nassau for his political merit.

Van der Heijden's wife Connie was also ative in the Rotterdam municipal politics. The couple married in 1963.

According to AD, the couple's family will make no further statements on the obituary.

Assisted suicide at the end of a full or completed life has been a topic of debate over the past weeks. The government wants to amend the euthanasia law so that elderly people who believe their life is complete can qualify for euthanasia, under strict conditions.