Better Off Dead
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#5 I Choose Not to Suffer
So much was said during Victoria’s parliamentary debate about the people who would choose voluntary assisted dying, were it to be made legal.
That they could not possibly know their own minds.
Nat Suleyman, MP
“I do not believe that an individual who is facing such enormous pressure and stress is capable of making a decision to end their own life.”
That the burden of possessing life-ending medication would be too much for them.
Luke O’Sullivan, MLC
“If I was in that situation, I would probably think about it every hour — ‘Will I take it now? Will I take it tomorrow? Will I take it after I’ve watched my favourite TV show?”
That they would be pushed into ending their lives by hard-hearted relatives.
Neil Angus, MP
“Sometimes the relatives might … be wanting to encourage the person to take their medicine — take their poison, I should say.”
Or that they should never even need to make such a choice, because palliative care could alleviate all their pain and suffering.
Robert Clark, MP
“Advances in palliative care medicine have been prodigious, to the point where well-managed cases under best practice palliative care can eliminate physical pain and discomfort.”
Why don’t we just let these people speak for themselves?
Meet Ron Poole, Fiona McClure, and Peter Jones, three Victorians from very different backgrounds in the final stages of a terminal illness and facing potentially brutal deaths.
Each has exhausted treatment options and been offered expert palliative care. Each has chosen to complete the VAD assessment and has in their possession life-ending medication that they can choose to take – or not – when the time is right.
Buoyed by the peace of mind of knowing they have an option to end their suffering if it becomes too great, all are determined to live what remains of their life to the full and say their goodbyes in the best way they know how.
Fiona McClure, metastatic stomach cancer
“I'd like to go out in a pretty dress with a pretty pink lipstick, and having just had a latte with a girlfriend. And I’m still looking forward to that glass of champagne after I take the draught. French champagne.”
- Visit Go Gentle Australia gogentleaustralia.org.au
- Website: Doctors For Assisted Dying Choice, respecting rational patient end-of-life choices
- Article: ‘Reasons for Requesting Physician-Assisted Suicide’ -- Angela Morrow RN, VeryWellhealth, 23 March 2020
- E-book: ‘Beyond Pain: Why more resources for palliative care alone will not address the need for Voluntary Assisted Dying’ - Go Gentle Australia, Nov 2019
In this episode (in order of appearance): Ron Poole, Fiona McClure, Wim Wansink, Peter Jones
Better Off Dead season two is produced by the Wheeler Centre and Go Gentle Australia
Learn more about Go Gentle Australia’s work
Writer, Co-Producer and Host: Andrew Denton (Go Gentle Australia)
Series Co-Producer and Script Editor: Bethany Atkinson-Quinton (The Wheeler Centre)
Associate Producers: Kiki Paul and Steve Offner (Go Gentle Australia)
Audio Editor and Engineer: Martin Peralta
Production Assistant: Alex Gow (The Wheeler Centre)
Marketing: Emily Harms (The Wheeler Centre), Steve Offner and Frankie Bennett (Go Gentle Australia)
Publicity: Debbie McInnes (DMCPR Media)
Episode Pages: Mia McAuslan (The Wheeler Centre)
Episode Transcript: Alice Boyle
Commissioning Editors: Kiki Paul (Go Gentle Australia) and Caro Llewellyn (The Wheeler Centre)
Theme music: ‘Loydie’s Angel’, written and performed by Jordan Laser
Episode Artwork: Megan Herbert
Music: James Domeyko, Aaron Gleeson, Alex Gow, Martin Peralta
Special thanks to our interviewees Ron Poole, Fiona McClure, Wim Wansink and Peter Jones for giving up their precious time for these interviews. Since recording this episode, Peter and Ron have died. Our thoughts are with their loved ones.
If you're suffering, or someone you love has died badly – in a hospital, in palliative care, in a nursing home, or at home – add your voice and tell your story here.
Download a transcript of this episode in PDF format.
Andrew Denton is widely recognised as one of Australian media's genuinely creative forces.