The Meddler

Assisted suicide: so harrowing, it’s unwatchable

What’s your view on assisted suicide?

Those of us who have watched someone we love die, generally have a different perspective than the people who are privileged enough to have a purely hypothetical view on the subject.

For those of us in this unfortunate club, it’s a no-brainer. Euthanasia should be a viable, legal end of life option.


For context, consider Greg Sims. He’s the focus of a new short film – it’s just five minutes long, but it’s very, very difficult to watch – which shows the awful, horrific reality of what it’s like to die of a difficult disease.

Stop the Horror is based on the 56-year-old’s painful death. He died 12 years ago, but not before suffering through torturous pain and crippling convulsions for days upon days in his hospital bed.

The gruesome film, created with Greg’s family’s participation, has been released as the Victorian government’s prepares to debate the assisted dying law in parliament.

Now, I understand the fears around euthanasia: the concerns that it will be abused.

But there are a number of restrictions and safeguards around the proposed law, which should address most (if not all) of them.

According to the law that will be put in front of parliament, a person who wants to access euthanasia will be required to:

• Make three requests within a 10-day period.
• One of those requests must be written and witnessed by two adults.
• One of the adult witnesses must be a non-family member, or someone who is unlikely to receive benefits in a will.
• The patient must be assessed by two doctors.

My dad is currently dying. He has end-stage pancreatic cancer, and he is fading away in front of us. He is actually too far-gone for the above conditions to apply to him, as he’s lost the ability to grip a pen and write. He recently reached the point where he couldn’t walk or go to the toilet by himself, so he has moved into a care facility.

And when I say he is a whisper of the man he used to be, I mean that literally: he is 40kg lighter.

He is sick, and weak, and pained. When he was first diagnosed with cancer, he pleaded with us: “Don’t let me fade away, and become bed-ridden and depressed. Put me out of my misery if it comes to that.”

It has come to that. And tragically, there is nothing we can do, but watch him deteriorate in front of our eyes.

Which is why I passionately believe that assisted suicide needs to become a viable medical option, Australia-wide – a true alternative to the completely torturous policies we currently have in place to manage end of life care.

What is your view on assisted suicide?