Former Melbourne firefighter Troy Thornton made headlines earlier this week when he revealed he was flying to Switzerland to end his own life. On Friday evening, AAP confirmed via news.com.au that the father-of-two had died in a Swiss euthanasia clinic by administering a life-ending drug. He was 54.
He died at Basel’s Life Circle assisted suicide clinic – the same one used by Australia’s oldest scientist Dr David Goodall last year – in order to finally end years of misery and suffering. Shortly before his death, Thornton explained the impact saying goodbye to his teenage children had on him. He said goodbye to 17-year-old son Jack and daughter Laura, 14, on Sunday before he flew overseas with wife Christine.
“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is say goodbye to them. It just destroyed me,” he told AAP. “It’s so surreal and sometimes I do think what the hell am I doing here? Why did I make this decision? But then you see what you’ve got and it’s not going away. I’m lucky to be here because the alternative is pretty ugly.”
He spoke exclusively to Starts at 60 earlier in the week and said it was vital for his children’s lives to stay as normal as possible, despite everything going on. They remained at home with their grandparents.
“Their welfare is really important,” he told Starts at 60. “Our friend will be bringing my wife home, and then she can come back to family so they’re all around her.”
And the fire brigade – which Thornton was part of for many years – will be organising his funeral arrangements.
“The fire brigade are doing all the funeral arrangements,” he said. “They’re having my service up at the fire brigade. Then my wife doesn’t have to worry about any of that, it’s an unreal relief. She just needs to turn up.”
Of his condition, he also explained that it simply gets worse over time and left him housebound in the later years. His condition stopped him from running, swimming, surfing and even kicking a football. Towards the end, it even ended his career of three decades.
Sadly, he wasn’t even able to sleep in the same bed as his wife for the last six months because of the fear he would hit her at night – and explained that the intimacy was lost because of his condition.
Thornton also explained the decision to end his life wasn’t one he made overnight and was one that he thought about for many years.
“I don’t want people, or my kids, or my wife to think that I’m abandoning them – that I’m running away,” Thornton said. “I’m not running away, I’m just doing this so I’m taken out of my misery and my wife and my kids can get on with their lives.”
Before his death, Thornton also called on Australia to change policies when it comes to end-of-life choices in the country and urged voters to let politicians know that the laws need to change.
If you’re depressed or need someone to talk to, there are many 24/7 support lines available, including Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, MensLineAustralia on 1300 789 978 and Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.