Having confirmed death, the next duty is to sign the death certificate. There is a number of requirements that must be satisfied before this can be done.
Firstly, the doctor must know why the patient has died. Clearly, if you have cancer, your death will not seem suspicious and your death certificate should be signed without further question. However, if you have died for no apparent reason, even if your death looks to be natural, the doctor will not be able to sign your death certificate. That said, where ‘the elderly’ are concerned, old age can be a good substitute for a terminal diagnosis.
One way of working towards your advanced age being substituted as your ‘cause of death’ (despite the real cause being suicide) is to visit your doctor shortly before you decide to end your life. You might complain of chest pain or shortness of breath. Plenty of elderly people die of pneumonia. It is not called the ‘older person’s friend’ for nothing. Presenting to your doctor with the symptoms of pneumonia is a good way to plant the seed in their mind. Then, when they find that you have died peacefully at home a few weeks later, they may add 2 and 2 together and the rest is history.
The visit to your doctor will also serve another important purpose. In most countries, a doctor will only be able to sign your death certificate if they have seen you in a professional capacity within recent weeks or months before your death. While the exact time period requirements change depending upon your country or state, the object is the same. Your regular, treating doctor will need to have seen you ‘recently’.
In the 2018 trial of Suzy Austen in New Zealand, the person Suzy was accused of assisting to suicide had not seen her regular doctor before she died. Indeed, her regular doctor of many years