No mention of intolerable suffering in Victorian report

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Home > Media > News > No mention of intolerable suffering in Victorian report
No mention of intolerable suffering in Victorian report

Victorians who are accessing assisted suicide aren’t choosing to die because of intolerable suffering – at least according to a report released by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board this month.

A total of two sentences of the 24-page report were dedicated to reflection on why people were choosing to end their lives, along with two quotes by applicants.

“Loss of autonomy was frequently cited by applicants as a reason for requesting voluntary assisted dying,” the report stated, before quoting an applicant who said they wished to die at home and have control over their own death.

“Other reasons for accessing voluntary assisted dying which were commonly reported included being less able to engage in activities that make life more enjoyable, losing control of body functions, and loss of dignity,” was the report’s only other sentence.

The only reference to suffering which was considered intolerable was in the glossary.

Victoria’s bishops released a statement responding to the report.

“The latest report from the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board is not a celebration of good healthcare, but a sad story of the loss of hope and care for vulnerable people,” the bishops said.

“The report is notable mostly for what it does not address: mental health, the proportion of patients who died alone, and the number of patients who were able to receive a comprehensive palliative care assessment before a VAD [Voluntary Assisted Dying] assessment.”

According to the report, 124 Victorians died by assisted suicide from June 2019 until June 2020.

In 104 cases the medication was self-administered, and in 20 cases the substance was administered by a practitioner.
Despite COVID and the inability of Victorian doctors to use tele-health to discuss assisted suicide with patients (a crime under Commonwealth legislation), the number of those who died under the legislation increased from 46 in the second half of 2019 to 76 in the first six months of 2020.

As the Victorian bishops noted, it took the state of Oregon in the United States 17 years to reach the same number of annual deaths that Victoria has achieved in its first 12 months of assisted suicide.