Dignified exit

THEY gather regularly, groups of senior citizens driven to break the law, death uppermost in their minds.

Many have imported nembutal, the drug of choice for desperate, ill people, knowing they face prosecution.

“Acting on Dr Nitschke’s advice, thousands of elderly Australians…have acquired their illegal drugs, stashed well away from inquiring eyes,” director of Ethical Rights and the ACT chapter of Exit International, ethicist David Swanton says.

Closer to home Exit International’s Carol O’Neill is a former nurse on a mission to help people take back control of their end of life: “People want choice and peace of mind, they don’t want to die suffering in a home.

“Palliative care is great but you are giving away your control,” she says.

• Carol O’Neill

• Carol O’Neill

In the permissive 2016s anything goes, except when it comes to talking about the one thing we all have in common — death.

“When it comes to ending the life of the elderly and sick we don’t want to talk about it,” Ms O’Neill says.

A staggering 70 per cent of older suicides are by hanging — a terrible end for a person driven to desperate measures, and traumatising for whomever finds them, usually a family member.

“What the government is doing at the moment is not doing anything — even though 80 per cent of Australians think it would be a good idea to legalise [euthanasia].”

Country people fare the worse because there’s little to no palliative care and they have to leave everything familiar and travel to the city for their last days.

“It’s a cruel and ghastly situation for them,” Ms O’Neill says.

Exit International was founded by Philip Nitschke in 1997 to advocate a choice in ending life through voluntary euthanasia.

As a nurse Ms O’Neill worked at the coal face and discovered dying is a slow, painful and degrading experience as all human dignity is stripped away in a mire of medical attention.

“It seems there must be a better way,” she says.

Ms O’Neill is the guest speaker for Glyde-In’s Exit When You Will, Friday, March 18, 10–11am. Call 9339 3964 to book. Tix $12.


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