Elderly couple die together
AN ELDERLY Sunshine Coast couple has died in a suspected suicide pact, reigniting debate on the Coast about legalising voluntary euthanasia.
The man and woman, aged in their 90s, were discovered by a friend on Sunday morning in their Buderim home.
Friends and neighbours in the body corporate retirement village learnt of the death of the largely inseparable couple only when police cars and paramedics arrived at the complex about 7am.
Neighbours told of their shock and sadness at the loss of the couple, who had been together for more than 60 years.
“I was at church at the time so I did not see the police arrive,” a female neighbour said.
“He had been in hospital for some time with pneumonia and had just come home but was getting progressively worse.
“His wife was frail and almost completely blind, and could no longer do the gardening and the outdoor things.”
The female neighbour said the couple's daughter had since returned to Tasmania after visiting her parents' home on hearing the news.
She was shocked at the news, the neighbour said.
A male neighbour said the couple were intensely private.
“I used to see him all the time on his mobility scooter and he would stop and wave and have a chat,” he said.
“But he's been in hospital for some time, and since he got back I haven't seen much of him at all.”
The Daily understands the couple had been accessing internet suicide sites prior to their deaths.
What do you think? Should voluntary euthanasia be made legal? Have your say below.
The Sunshine Coast branch of Dying with Dignity Queensland said the Buderim couple were not among its 240-strong membership.
Sunshine Coast police would not comment on the incident except to say it was being treated as a suicide.
The couple's suspected suicide pact and the subsequent shock of family and friends is an unnecessary result of laws prohibiting assisted suicide, according to Buderim resident Marshall Perron, a former Northern Territory chief minister.
Mr Perron was the man behind Australia's first voluntary euthanasia legislation with the 1995 Northern Territory Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.
The act was overturned two years later by the Federal Parliament.
“It's not uncommon in Australia that pacts are made between couples to comfortably die together even if it includes breaking the law in clandestine ways,” Mr Perron said.
Voluntary euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke said pacts among the elderly were being seen more than ever before.
“Two people have lived a long life together and one is considerably sick or more sick and the other elects not to go on without the other,” Dr Nitschke said.
Anyone needing support or information about suicide prevention should contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 and for those affected by suicide, please contact StandBy Response Service on 0407 766 961