An 81-year-old man who had long fought for people's right to die a dignified, peaceful death died violently along with his wife early Tuesday, police say. Frank Kavanaugh, a member of the Final Exit Network's national advisory board, was found dead from gunshot wounds along with his 88-year-old wife, Barbara, at a Florida nursing home she had been admitted to earlier this year, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Police in Charlotte County believe it was a murder-suicide. Neighbors and fellow members of the right-to-die organization say Kavanaugh was completely devoted to his wife, who had dementia, and may have felt that this was the only way out, WINK reports.
"It's shocking to everyone that he felt compelled to use a gun, but apparently that was necessary because he didn't know how to get her out of the nursing home," Robert Rivas, the group's general counsel, tells the New York Daily News. "Frank may have felt there was no other way to help his wife and didn't want to live with the consequences of what he felt he had to do." A friend tells ABC7 that a mutual decision may have been made after Kavanaugh began to have health issues of his own. "They were with each other constantly over a lifetime. My guess is they had determined to go together," he says. "While my heart is breaking on one hand, I have to honor the fact they went on their terms." (An advocacy group says it has found an inexpensive drug cocktail for suicide.)