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Sufferer�s sad goodbye
The West Australian

For Barbara Harrison, the hardest part about deciding to take her own life was not being able to say a proper goodbye, especially to her two sons.

Instead, as the 64-year-old bed- ridden multiple sclerosis sufferer readied the bottle of Nembutal and ensured her paperwork was in order, she had to put her thoughts into an email that was sent to friends and family in the hours after her death overnight on Sunday.

Having spent months lobbying politicians to support pro-euthan- asia legislation, Ms Harrison used the email to explain to her loved ones why she had opted to end "the wretchedness that is now my life" and ask for their understanding.

Ms Harrison also spoke to _The West Australian _ in her final days on the condition the interview was published only after her death and in the hope it would reinvigorate the euthanasia debate.

"There's been far too many deaths like mine, too many sad stories," the Perth mother said.

Ms Harrison's own sad story included a desire to attend the July graduation of her youngest son and primary carer.

But she feared losing the strength to open the bottle of Nembutal procured through the post from Mexico last year.

"I've got to hold the bottle, get underneath the rim of the metal and then cut out the plastic before I can drink the stuff," she said.

"So I can't wait any longer because my hands won't work. I worry I may have left it too late. If euthanasia was made legal, then there would be someone there to help me with these things.

"My son is just finishing his masters and he'll be graduating in July. If euthanasia was legal, I could be around for that graduation and now I can't. I've been a solo mum for 18 years and I can't see that."

_The West Australian _ first published details of Ms Harrison's plight in November when she made an emotional plea to WA politicians to legalise euthanasia. She wrote to half a dozen MPs, offering to meet them so they could understand her condition, but had no replies.

Having lived with MS for more than three decades, Ms Harrison said she wanted to die because her condition had deteriorated to the point where she was in nearly constant pain and could not pursue the hobbies she had once loved.

"I have really not been 'Barbara' for years now," is how she described the sense of losing her identity.

Since going public with her desire to die, Ms Harrison has been in regular contact with this reporter, detailing the ups and downs of daily life, her fear she would not be able to pluck up the courage to end her life and, in recent weeks, a deterioration in her condition.

She called last week with the news that the time to put her exit plan into action had arrived.

When she last spoke to _The West Australian _ four days before her death, Ms Harrison was calm and resigned but frustrated the lethal dose could not be legally administered by a third party and in the presence of loved ones.

"It's the minority religious groups that are standing in the way (of legalising euthanasia) and it shouldn't have anything to do with religion," she said.

"I believe in God but I know God wouldn't want me to suffer like this. God knows me. God knows how I've been and how hard this is.

"I'm not leaving it any longer."

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline WA 13 11 14.