Woman, 23, took her own life under euthanasia laws

Editor’s Note (06/26/2023): Since the time this article was published, Lily Thai has passed away. In a death notice published in the Adelaide Advertiser, her family said the young South Australian had “passed away peacefully” at Laurel Hospice at the Flinders Medical Centre on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

Assisted dying is a hotly debated topic in many countries around the world. Some say people have the right to die with dignity and on their terms; others say it is unnatural and should not be allowed. Recently, Southern Australia passed voluntary assisted dying laws that allow people with terminal illness the choice of when and where they die. Today, 23-year-old Lily Thai is taking advantage of that after years of suffering from a chronic, incurable autoimmune disease.


23-Year-Old in Australia Chooses Assisted Dying

Up until 2017, Lily Thai had a pretty normal life. In 2017, however, everything changed in her last year of high school. Her doctors diagnosed her with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). This is an autoimmune disease in which her body was now attacking her own nervous system. It has left her bedridden and in constant pain. She never got to graduate, and instead of going to college or taking a gap year traveling the world, she ended up in palliative care. Her father has been taking care of her, including having to bathe her. Lily has had countless surgeries and illnesses that have left her unable to walk or control her bowels. They then discovered that she had organ failure and a large lesion on the left side of her brain. Since then, she has been just surviving, living in palliative care. (1)

Lily Thai in a hospital bed
Image Credit: Lily Thai

While in palliative care, Lily developed a close connection with another young patient suffering from the same disease, named Annaliese. The two of them have supported each other throughout their struggles, and have been one another’s pillar of support on their worst days.

“All I can do is brush her (Lily’s) hair or moisturize her legs. I just want her to know that I’m there and people care.” Annaliese said.

Lily Thai June 2017
Lily Thai June 2017. Image Credit: Lily Thai

The Decision For Assisted Dying

After all of the treatments and surgeries that Lily has undergone, her doctors have informed her that there is not much more that they can do for her. She has lived her last six years in pain, not being able to participate in life. She has missed everything and knows she will continue to miss everything about living. Lily knows that she will never go to university; she will never be able to live on her own, go to parties, or have a family of her own one day. She is aware that she likely will not live to see old age. She is suffering greatly, and she is simply ready for that suffering to be over. For these reasons, she has chosen to go forward with assisted dying today. Her family respects her decision, but, as can be expected, it was not easy for them.

“Mum (had) to step out of the room, because she found it too much, but they respect my decision, and they’d rather not see me suffer anymore,” Lily explained.

Lily Thai with a friend in the hospital
Image Credit: Lily Thai

Preparing For Death

Lily is at peace with her decision. She says after feeling out of control for so long, she now has some choice of what happens to her. In making this decision, she was able to dictate how she wanted her funeral to be and where she wished to be buried. She wrote letters to all of her loved ones recalling memories she has with them.

“I’ll no longer have any pain, I will no longer suffer with any of these issues, and I’ll finally be free of all the suffering that I have endured for so many years,” she said. (2)

Read: This Colombian woman wants to die by euthanasia. She’s not terminally ill.

Lily Thai enjoying McDonalds by the ocean with a friend
Lily Thai and Danika Pederzolli in the back of an ambulance, eating McDonald’s by the ocean. Image credit: Danika Pederzolli | Facebook

Finally, a friend of hers who is a paramedic helped her fulfill her final wish on her last day of life: Going to the beach. They drove her in an ambulance as close to the beach as they could get, got her some french fries from McDonalds, and made sure she was lying comfortably facing the ocean. For her funeral, instead of flowers, Lily will be taking donations for palliative research to The Hospital Research Foundation on her memorial card. These cards will be available to all of her funeral attendees.

The Rules For Assisted Dying

Assisted dying, also known as assisted suicide or euthanasia, is a controversial topic that has been debated for years. It is the process of intentionally ending a person’s life with their consent, usually due to a terminal illness or unbearable suffering. In recent years, several countries have legalized assisted dying, including Australia, Canada, and the United States.


In Australia, the state of Victoria became the first state to legalize assisted dying in 2017. The law, which came into effect in 2019, allows terminally ill patients with less than six months to live and who are experiencing intolerable suffering to request assistance in ending their life. The patient must be assessed by two doctors, and there is a mandatory 10-day waiting period before the procedure can take place. The patient must also administer the medication themselves unless they are unable to do so, and a medical practitioner must be present to ensure the process is carried out correctly. As already mentioned, South Australia just legalized this in January of 2023. (3)


In Canada, assisted dying was legalized in 2016 after a landmark Supreme Court ruling. The law allows patients who are suffering from a “grievous and irremediable” medical condition to request assistance in ending their life. The patient must be assessed by two doctors, and there is a mandatory waiting period of at least ten days before the procedure can take place. Unlike in Australia, the patient does not have to administer the medication themselves, and a medical practitioner can do it on their behalf. (4)

United States

Assisted dying is legal in nine United States states: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations, but generally, the patient must be terminally ill with less than six months to live, and they must be mentally competent to make the decision. The patient must also make two oral requests, at least 15 days apart, and submit a written request signed by two witnesses. A medical practitioner must also confirm the patient’s diagnosis and prognosis. (5)

Dying With Dignity

Assisted dying is a complex and controversial issue, and the rules and regulations surrounding it vary greatly from country to country. In Australia, Canada, and the United States, the laws are designed to protect the patient’s autonomy and ensure that the process is carried out safely and ethically. While there are still many debates and discussions to be had on this topic, it is clear that assisted dying is becoming more accepted and accessible in certain parts of the world.

For Lily Thai, it meant an end to a life in which she was only surviving, living each day in a hospital bed in pain. In this way, she gets to spend her last day the way she wants to, have important conversations with her loved ones, and go on her own terms. We can only hope that Lily’s friends and family will find some solace, knowing that she is no longer suffering.

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