A Good Death is Dr Rodney Syme’s candid and provocative account of the experiences of many terminally ill people he has assisted to end their lives.
The full transcript of a presentation by Dr Syme to Dying with Dignity NSW (known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of NSW at that time) was published in the March 2009 Newsletter of Dying with Dignity NSW. Amongst many things it said: “… the book [A Good Death] had its genesis in around the year 2000 when I realised that I had had quite a significant experience in assisting people at the end of their lives. That experience had taken place in a covert environment for over 25 years – and it was an experience not unique to me but, one which few, if any doctors, were prepared to talk about – and I felt that the journey that I’d had could be worth talking about. At the same time I knew that I was exposing myself and my activities which were perhaps quasi-legal, to say the least, to public scrutiny, which is why the book took such a long time to come to fruition. Every time I sat in front of my computer I said: Am I being an absolute idiot?
The second reason for writing the book was that I felt there was a poor understanding of the context in which such medical assistance would be provided. This poor understanding included not only the general public, but in my experience also doctors, journalists, bio-ethicists and philosophers. All these people, often posing as great experts, were writing about something that they have never done or never seen done. And that’s like being a professor of surgery who’s never operated on a patient.”
A Good Death was published by Melbourne University Publishing