At the age of 24, S. sustained a spinal cord injury in a car accident that left her a wheelchair user. She became active in promoting the rights of people with disabilities and served on the boards of several major organizations devoted to this issue. For fifteen years she was also the Executive Director of a non-profit that managed the State of California's Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program. In March 2014, she began to experience severe and unrelenting nausea which forced her retirement five months later. After consulting numerous medical professionals and being prescribed many medications over the next two years, none of which helped her for very long, she was finally diagnosed with a rare and incurable, although not terminal, condition. With her nausea worsening, and no hope for relief, S. made the decision to end her life. With no legal option for getting assistance, she purchased a gun, and told her husband and daughter of her decision. She and her husband spent time the next few weeks putting their affairs in order.
On the day of her death, S. left a note for her family and friends thanking them for being a part of the wonderful life she had shared with them. She also explained that she made her decision because she could no longer endure the intense and unremitting nausea. She pinned a Do Not Resuscitate note to her jacket with her name and address and her husband’s contact information, and she put her signed Health Care Directive in her jacket pocket. She then rode her motorized wheelchair to the local police station where she shot herself. The police responded immediately, and she was taken to the county hospital. Even though she had the legal document in her pocket, her husband was called to confirm that she should not be resuscitated. She died while her husband and daughter were on their way to the hospital. At the hospital, her husband endured questioning by a police officer who wanted to learn if he had helped her in any way. Her husband was later presented with a bill for $40,000 for the ambulance and the efforts to resuscitate her. Fortunately, the family had good insurance and only had to pay a $100 deductible.