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She Helped Her Father Die, but 'Suicide' Isn't the Right Word

Esme Deprez writes of her father's battle with ALS, and his decision to use a new Maine law
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2021 12:48 PM CST

(Newser) – In April of this year, 75-year-old Ron Deprez became the second person to use Maine's new assisted-suicide law to end his life. That's the short version. But in a lengthy and moving piece for Bloomberg, daughter Esme Deprez fills in the details about her father's life and death—and what it was like to help him die. In life, Deprez had both a vibrant mind and body. "He could wire a house, tile a floor, bag a duck, skin a deer, ride a motorcycle, and helm a boat," writes his daughter. "His life testified to the notion that if you work hard enough, you can do just about anything." In the last few years, however, his worsening (and incurable) ALS robbed him of the ability to care for himself. He texted his daughter in March that it was time, and she traveled from New York to Maine to help.

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"On April 17, I found myself behind the wheel of his black truck, driving the 20 minutes to a pharmacy in Portland, the only one in the state that sold the necessary drugs," writes Esme. "I paid $365 and clutched the white paper bag like a precious heirloom." Along with her brother and husband, she spent a nice night with her father drinking wine and reminiscing, and the next afternoon they followed the instructions for the drugs—one for nausea, another to slowly stop his heart, sedatives. Not to mention shots of fancy Irish whiskey he'd been saving. After all that, her father closed his eyes for the final time. "Critics would call my dad's death a suicide," writes Esme. "But he wanted to live. He was going to die from his illness, regardless of whether he used lethal drugs to hasten it. The word 'suicide' never felt like it fit." Read the full story. (Read more Longform stories.)

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