A devastated mother has opened up about how her terminally ill teenage son took his own life in front of her at home.
Rhys Habermann, 19, recorded a video in January 2017 revealing his death wish after an 18-month battle with cancer that started in his hip but spread to his shoulders, ribs, spine, skull and the lungs.
Facing an agonizing death in hospice care, Rhys decided to end his own life in his South Australian home in front of his heartbroken parents.
After an 18-month police investigation, his parents were cleared of any wrongdoing, largely thanks to the video.
Now, Rhys’ mother, Liz, has revealed how proud her son would be to have his legacy lead in part to the state’s voluntary assisted dying (VAD) bill that began in January of this year. .
Rhys Habermann (pictured), 19, recorded a video in January 2017 revealing his death wish after an 18-month battle with cancer that started in his hip but spread to his shoulders, ribs, spine , skull and lungs.
Rhys’s mother, Liz (pictured, centre), has said how proud her son would be if his legacy led in part to South Australia’s Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) bill which began in January this year.
“Rhys’ death was not in vain and he would be very proud,” Habermann said. 7News.
“I would be delighted if his story is helping people understand that VAD is a kinder, more compassionate way to die.”
The traumatic experience began in 2015 when Rhys, then in his final year at Immanuel College in Adelaide, returned home complaining of hip pain.
She underwent an MRI which revealed that she had Ewing’s sarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer.
The teen quickly started rounds of chemotherapy to induce vomiting, but it failed to stop the cancer from spreading through his body.
After his 19th birthday, he was told that the disease was going to kill him, and he began to seriously consider suicide.
“He didn’t want to be in a coma in bed,” Liz told the network.
Brett and Liz Habermann’s son, Rhys (all pictured together), took his own life after it became clear his diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma was terminal.
In a video made before taking his own life, Rhys said: “I believe in my right to die of my own choice.”
His condition deteriorated to the point that one day he was unable to get out of bed.
“He couldn’t move, so we took him to the hospital and they found a tumor on his spine,” Liz said.
Once she got home, she told her mother that it was time.
“She’s had enough,” Liz said.
“So, the kids came to see him, and he had some friends come over and spend time with him.”
That same weekend in January 2017, Rhys recorded a harrowing video where he exposed his desire to die.
“I believe in my right to die by my own choice,” he said.
‘This is difficult for everyone, but I refuse to go into hospice care, having experienced quite a bit this past week. It’s more painful than I could have imagined.
Minutes after recording the images, he took his own life in front of his parents. Her brothers, unaware of the plan, had been expelled for fear of implicating them.
Ms Habermann said her son taught her about “compassion and understanding.”
A thrill seeker, Rhys wanted to focus on his 12-year studies, but was told by a doctor, ‘you have to focus on staying alive.’
“People don’t like to talk about death and dying, but we have to,” he said.
“We have to be compassionate, it should be an option and most people won’t use it, but if we can help just one person not to suffer then our job is done.”
Ms Habermann said the choice was up to the individual and they had the right to make their own decision if they were in extreme pain.
“The treatment can be almost as terrible as the disease, so some people stop treating their children,” he said.
“And people who aren’t in that situation are very judgmental, and it’s like, it’s not your life, it’s not yours for the taking.”
While VAD is now legalized in Ms Habermann’s estate, it is not the case for all of Australia and is only available to those who meet certain criteria.
Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia have passed their own legislation to allow the practice.
However, ACT is expected to introduce its bill to the ACT Legislative Assembly in the second half of 2023, while NT is yet to reveal its plans.