by Peter Hudson, The Age, 7 October 2017
The fact is, assisted suicide may simply add to the anxieties and pressures felt by families. While the specific role of family carers in the process of assisted suicide is relatively underexplored, some instances of post-traumatic distress disorder and depression in families who witness assisted suicide have been reported overseas. We shouldn’t think that Victoria’s assisted suicide model is immune from similar unintended consequences. Under the proposed Victorian legislation, before a person is prescribed their lethal dose of medication they must appoint a contact person – who will invariably be a family member or close friend – who is responsible for securing the lethal medication, checking whether or not it has been administered, and returning any unused substances to the pharmacist after the person has died. One might expect the same trusted family member – a partner, a son or daughter – to inevitably bear the responsibility of removing the lethal substances from the locked box and mixing them with a liquid to be consumed by the patient.
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