Amanda’s father took his life in a violent and desperate way

Amanda’s father took his life in a violent and desperate way

Robin and Barbara Collins on their wedding day, 50 years before Robin’s death.

On 27 February, 2014, Amanda Collins’ father shot himself in the backyard of the family home, whilst her mother was in the kitchen. Robin Collins’ body lay on a patch of grass for about 30 minutes before the police arrived.

On the death certificate it stated that Robin Collins, aged 73, had died of a gunshot wound. Amanda points out that in reality, her father was “several excruciating weeks” away from dying from myelofibrosis​, a form of blood cancer. By the time he shot himself, Robin Collins’ spleen had gotten so big he couldn’t breathe, sit or lie comfortably and his stomach was also compressed, which meant he could not take in much food. If he had not killed himself, Robin would have eventually starved to death.

As a father, husband, and engineer, Robin had always been stoic and determined. “My dad was always a law abiding man. He owned guns and taught us to use and to store them responsibly,” Amanda said. She believes that her father would have sought and been granted access to voluntary assisted dying medication if it was legal in 2014. “He would have been grateful for the gift of a dignified end, rather for the nightmare he left for my family.” Amanda said.

Figures from the Victorian Coroners Court suggest that 240 people who experienced “irreversible decline” in their physical health took their own life between 2009 and 2013. Coroner Caitlin English told the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry Into End-of-life Choices that “These are people who are suffering from irreversible physical terminal decline or disease, and they are taking their lives in desperate, determined and violent ways.”

Dr Rodney Syme (pictured) estimates that he has counselled about 1800 people about end-of-life matters, and now receives “about three to four approaches a week” for advice. According to Dr Syme “Most doctors run a mile before they engage in an honest, open discussion with all the cards on the table …The great thing this legislation will do is open the gates to broad discussion between doctors and patients about the end of life, and as a result, many of those people who might otherwise end their lives as the Coroner has described will not do so.”

Click for article in The Age 8 October 2017 ‘ ‘Backyard euthanasia’: the shocking cases that could change the law

Click to learn how you can support the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017.