The topic of assisted suicide is a deeply polarizing and emotionally charged topic that raises profound ethical, legal, and moral questions. While some passionately argue for the right of individuals facing excruciating suffering to choose when and how they want to end their lives, others vehemently oppose it and believe that life should be preserved at all costs. Assisted suicide, also known as euthanasia, is a controversial topic in many countries around the world, and its legality and regulations vary widely.
This article delves into the complex landscape of assisted suicide through the heartbreaking journey of Lily Thai, a 23-year-old Australian woman who, after years of excruciating pain from a chronic, fatal autoimmune disease, made the difficult decision to end her life on her own terms. Lily’s story illuminates the deeply personal and emotional aspects of assisted suicide, as well as the legal and ethical aspects surrounding it. We will also explore the evolving legal framework for assisted suicide in Australia and other countries, shedding light on the complexities and debates surrounding this deeply divisive issue.
Australian 23-year-old Selects Assisted Suicide
Lily Thai lived a fairly typical existence until 2017. But in 2017, during her senior year of high school, everything changed. Her doctors diagnosed her with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). As a result of this autoimmune condition, her body began to attack her own nervous system. She is now bedridden and suffers from chronic discomfort. She was never able to finish her education and instead of attending college or taking a year off to see the globe, she was put into hospice care. Her father took care of her, which included bathing her. Lily can no longer walk or control her bowels due to the numerous surgeries and illnesses she has endured. She was later found to have organ failure and a significant lesion on the left side of her brain. Since then, he has been receiving palliative care and is barely surviving. (1)
Lily became good friends with Annaliese, a young girl with the same illness while receiving palliative care. The two have been each other’s rock through their hardships and their best and worst times.
“All I can do for Lily is brush her hair and wet her feet. She needs to know I’m here and that people care,” Annaliese said.
The Choice Regarding Assisted Dying
Lily’s doctors advised her that after all the procedures and therapies she had undergone, there was not much they could do for her. She spent the last six years in pain, unable to participate in daily activities. She missed everything about life and she is sure she will continue to miss everything. Lily is aware that she will never be able to go to college, live independently, attend parties, or one day have a family. She is aware of the likelihood that she will not live to old age. He is going through a lot of pain right now and just wants it to go away. Because of these factors, she decided to commit assisted suicide today. Although they appreciated her decision, it was difficult for her family to accept it.
Lily stated: “They support my decision and would rather not see me suffer anymore. Mum (had to leave the room because it hurt too much).
Lily is happy with her choice. She claims that after feeling powerless for so long, she now has some control over what comes into her mind. With this choice, she could decide where she wanted to be buried and how she wanted her funeral to take place. She remembered them in letters to all her loved ones.
She said, “I will finally be free of all the anxieties I have endured for so many years. I will have no more pain. I will no longer struggle with any of these fears.” (2)
Finally, on the last day of her life, she was able to go to the beach with the help of a lifeguard friend. They brought her by ambulance as close to the beach as possible, grabbed her McDonald’s fries, and made sure she was lying comfortably facing the water. On her memorial card, Lily requests donations to The Hospital Research Foundation for palliative research in lieu of flowers for her funeral. Everyone who attends her funeral will be able to get these cards.
Laws relating to assisted dying
Euthanasia, usually referred to as assisted suicide or assisted death, is a controversial topic that has been debated for a long time. It is the act of deliberately taking someone’s life with their consent, usually because they are in excruciating pain or have a terminal illness. Many countries, including Australia, Canada, and the US, have legalized assisted suicide in recent years.
The Australian state of Victoria became the first state to legalize assisted suicide in 2017. Under the law, which came into force in 2019, terminally ill individuals who have less than six months to live and who are suffering excruciatingly can apply for help to end their life. Before treatment, the patient must undergo the necessary 10-day waiting period and two medical examinations. In addition, the patient must self-administer the medication if unable to do so, and a physician must be present to ensure that the procedure is performed correctly. As previously noted, South Australia recently legalized this in January 2023. (3)
In Canada, assisted suicide was legalized in 2016 as a result of a landmark Supreme Court decision. The law allows patients to request assistance in ending their lives if they have a “serious and irreversible” medical condition. Before performing the operation, the patient must be examined by two doctors and wait at least ten days. Unlike in Australia, a medical professional can administer medication to a patient instead of the patient himself. (4)
Nine US states – California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington – allow assisted suicide. Each state has its own set of laws, but generally speaking, the patient must be mentally competent and have a prognosis of a terminal illness with less than six months remaining. Furthermore, the patient is required to submit two written requests at least 15 days old and two oral requests. The doctor must also confirm the patient’s diagnosis and prognosis. (5)
Dying with respect
The legal framework for assisted suicide varies widely from country to country and is a complex and controversial topic. Regulations in Australia, Canada, and the United States are designed to protect patient autonomy and ensure that the procedure is performed ethically and safely. Although there is still a lot of argument and debate on this topic, it is evident that assisted suicide is becoming more acceptable and accessible in some areas of the world.
For Lily Thai, assisted suicide marked the end of a life marked by excruciating pain and unimaginable problems. It allowed her to spend her last day as she wished, surrounded by her loved ones, feeling the sea breeze, and enjoying her favorite delicacy. Lily’s journey serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of respecting individual decisions and providing compassionate care at the end of life.
Faced with profound suffering, individuals like Lily Thai seek the autonomy to make deeply personal decisions about their lives. While assisted suicide remains a divisive topic, it is essential to engage in open and empathetic conversations and respect the decisions of those who, like Lily, desire a dignified and peaceful end to their suffering.
Lily Thai’s heartbreaking journey illuminates the deeply personal and complex nature of assisted suicide. Her story underscores the importance of empathy, understanding, and civil dialogue when confronting this contentious issue. As the legal environment for assisted suicide continues to evolve in different parts of the world, it is essential to recognize the deeply personal choices of individuals facing excruciating suffering. By honoring their autonomy and providing compassionate end-of-life care, we can ensure that their final moments are marked by dignity, comfort, and peace.