Joy determined to die

Last updated 01:16 14/08/2008
BRADLEY AMBROSE/Taranaki Daily News
DEATH WISH: Joy Hunter, 77, wants the right to die humanely through euthanasia before she needs to go into a rest home or becomes a burden on her family.

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An Eltham woman says she is determined to die before she needs to go into a rest home or becomes a burden on her family.

Joy Hunter, 77, says she has had a full and interesting life, but now wants the right to kill herself humanely.

But after three failed attempts to take her own life she wants to live long enough to see voluntary euthanasia become legal in New Zealand.

In October, she took sleeping pills but was found unconscious in her chair by her caring neighbours and resuscitated - despite filling in a do-not-resuscitate form.

"I was very surprised to wake up. I was disappointed."

Two other attempts have also failed.

Ms Hunter was an NAC airhostess, married a pilot, lived overseas, became a mother, author, expert on herbs, and has diplomas in aromatherapy and therapeutic massage.

But she now has incurable cancer and has had a minor stroke.

"I want to go before I have another stroke. It's time for me."

The news that she had made the suicide attempts has shocked her good friend, retired nurse, Di Hutton, of New Plymouth.

But Ms Hutton, 74, says she supports her friend's move for voluntary euthanasia as do many of their friends.

"Joy is a real old trooper. She's had an amazing life. She's lovely, is Joy."

When she was nursing, she often saw morphine used for cancer sufferers when they were near death, Ms Hutton said. "You can't stand by and let people suffer," Ms Hutton said.

Their stance is made more difficult in Taranaki which she describes as parochial.

Ms Hunter says she has been an honorary member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand for two years and attended workshops in Wellington and an Exit International conference in Christchurch in July.

She has found GPs not keen to talk about euthanasia. One replied that he had taken the hippocratic oath.

"It's very noble but times have changed," she said.

Ms Hunter said she is well aware that New Zealanders travelling overseas are bringing back Benulate, which vets use for euthanising animals, so they can use it for themselves.

However the cost, at $5000 on the black market, means it is often only affordable for the rich.

"Voluntary euthanasia is for people still cognitive. I can't see that anyone else should be involved. It could be open to abuse but if the law covers it properly it shouldn't be abused.

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"I'll try and get this recommended and supported while I am able. I'd like to live to see the law decriminalised."

She finds the growth in privatised rest homes in Taranaki upsetting. She remains upset that her own mother was not well cared for in a rest home.

 

- Taranaki Daily News

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