Assisted suicide for mental illness

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Posted 3/29/2013 by janet r in NSBR Board
 

janet r
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Posted: 3/29/2013 1:55:58 PM
I know this is a hot topic and a difficult topic.

I know that people with mental illnesses are not in the best frame of mind usually to make BIG decisions especially one as big as ending one's own life, but I just want to talk about it and get some ideas.

What if someone has tried REALLY to make things better, to feel better. They take medication and go to therapy and try to implement what they learn in therapy to make things better, but they just still feel horrible and like life isn't worth living. Is it fair to sort of force someone to live in great pain? Especially if this person feels they are a great burden to society instead of someone who is productive?

Aren't there a few countries where this is allowed? I just wonder if eventually this will be allowed in the US.

Aren't there some people who just can't make it in life no matter how hard they try? And what about quality of life? What if there is none? Just pain and hurt.

Is is SO bad to have assisted suicide for those who truly are suffering and can't get any relief?

And you all can get on to me all you want and throw tomatoes. I'm ok with that.

melanell
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Posted: 3/29/2013 1:59:58 PM
I really don't have an overall issue with assisted suicide.

Whether or not it's appropriate in cases of mental health, I don't know. That's tough for me.


But that's why some countries who do allow it have a qualified panel of professionals who have to agree that it's in the best interest of the person before it can be done. I don't envy them their jobs, but for those they can help leave this world in a dignified manner, I am thankful to them for doing it.





mishkismom
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Posted: 3/29/2013 2:17:31 PM
My immediate answer is no- not right.
I am pro assisted suicide. I don't agree with those that think elderly or disabled will be tricked into it . I think it is a right people should have for dignity in the last stages of their life.
I guess now that I really think about it I still have a disconnect when it comes to mental illness. I have depression. I know it's real but part of me still doesn't "get it ". Do you know what I mean? Right now I have issues with what you are asking about but I admit I have a lot to learn/get over-through.
Thanks for giving me something to think about.


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Constance
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Posted: 3/29/2013 2:31:55 PM
I support assisted suicide for medical conditions with a terminal diagnosis and no hope of recovery. But I don't put mental depression in that category (although I'm sure it must feel that way from those who suffer from it). Because of that, I would not support it in that instance.

*maureen*
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Posted: 3/29/2013 2:35:32 PM
I am a huge believer in assisted suicide in terminal patients. I think it's wrong to prolong suffering in a terminal situation. It's my opinion that if we are willing to put a suffering animal out of it's misery we should show that same respect to a human being.

That said, I do not agree with assisted suicide in a mental health situation. The difference to me is the terminal issue. I do not think that mentally ill people are terminal. I have a ver close family member who battles mental illness and I see the struggle he goes through to live his life and I would not support a decision to have a physician end his life.

rosiekat
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Posted: 3/29/2013 2:36:21 PM
My gut instinct is no. I don't really have a problem with the rare case of assisted suicide, although I do think making it actually legal has a host of problems. But with mental illness, you are going down a far, far too slippery slope. I say this as a person with depression and anxiety (never remotely suicidal, FTR) with various friends and family with varying degrees of varying mental illnesses. I guess I just feel that the very definition of mental illness says that your brain isn't working right, so at its most basic level, how are you in your right mind and competent to decide?

Some illnesses are by their very nature much more impulsive, too, or even compulsive. I guess I just think assisted suicide is a very tricky minefield to begin with, and it just gets worse when you have someone with literally questionable mental status.


Jen


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AncestralPea

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Posted: 3/29/2013 2:41:50 PM
I've read previous posts where you have said you struggle with depression.

If you are describing yourself here OP, you should let the readers of this thread know. No one wants to be responsible for adding more hurt to someone who is struggling.

I wish you peace and that each day is better than the last for you. Take care.

janet r
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Posted: 3/29/2013 3:13:03 PM
I do struggle with depression. I am not suicidal and didn't want to make it about me and cause worry or anything like that. I just AM miserable though. And very tired. But this isn't really about me. I wanted to see what other people thought about this idea.

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Posted: 3/29/2013 3:14:43 PM

I've read previous posts where you have said you struggle with depression.

If you are describing yourself here OP, you should let the readers of this thread know. No one wants to be responsible for adding more hurt to someone who is struggling.

I wish you peace and that each day is better than the last for you. Take care.


That was my thought as well. I've read many posts from the OP about being severely depressed and not wanting to be a burden to anyone. I hope you are not speaking of yourself. Please let us know if you are...



melanell
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Posted: 3/29/2013 4:14:43 PM
I was treated for depression and rather severe panic attacks several years ago. And I can definitely tell you, that at the time, I could not imagine that I would ever get better.

I couldn't imagine life being good again. It was a horrible time.

An d that's exactly why I can't say "yes" to the idea of assisted suicide for mental health as easily as for any other health problem.

because I know, from experience, that you can be there, and feel like it will NEVER, EVER, EVER get better. You can be completely sure that you are making everyone else as miserable as you feel.

But when you get past that, as I did, and you are good again, you look back on that time with fearfulness of what could have happened if those around you ever gave up on you or if you gave up on yourself. Totally and completely gave up. Go ask someone for assisted suicide if it were available type of giving up. Because then you never would have had the chance to be good again.

Sometimes I feel a flash of fear about the possibility of ever having to go through anything like that again. And I do think to myself that I'm not sure I could do it again. But mostly, I can just be grateful that I never have had to go through it again, and that things have been good for a long time now.

And I hope that good time is coming for you, too, OP. Gentle hugs.




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Posted: 3/29/2013 4:20:14 PM
If this person does not have the ability to make a proper judgement/decision due to mental illness, then i hope someone who does is caring for them. i don't have a problem with assisted-suicide if it's a person of sound mind. i don't know if i would have the ability to make that decision for another person, even someone i dearly loved. i hope i'm never in that position, but some might call it murder. i am not religious, although spiritual so that's not a sticking point for me.

for your sake, i hope you can get the assistance you need for your struggles. sending out a big cyber hug for you and your loved one.


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Posted: 3/29/2013 4:20:19 PM
Why should the mentally ill be discriminated against? If someone who has a body part that has failed completely and left them in agony is eligible, the same should apply with a mind. If they are being beset upon by voices or desires that makes living agony for them, they should be able to receive the same opt-out anyone else does.

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Posted: 3/29/2013 4:41:21 PM

I have thought a lot about this. I am not depressed but I have a close family member who has struggled all of their life with mental illness. This person has been through many different drug therapies and talk therapies, all without success. Living is an agony for him and he does not ever remember feeling any different. He has no hope that things will get better but he keeps trying because his family pushes him to keep trying. He is exhausted and his family is exhausted from the stress of it. On top of that, I work in a psychiatric ward and I see so many people like him, who struggle and live in fear and agony and are treated terrible by society. And I kind of wonder, what is the point?

I believe very much in self-determination and I wonder why should this be any different than something like cancer? It is a terminal illness. It might be able to be managed but in many cases there is only a temporary fix - there is no cure. But when it comes right down to it, I don't really believe in assisted suicide for terminal illness either. I don't necessarily think it is a sin, I just don't think it is the right answer.

In the end I go back to my own spiritual beliefs. I believe that we are all here to learn our lessons and to grow spiritually. I believe that we endure pain and struggle as a way of building compassion and enlightenment in our own souls. And I believe that we choose this life and many others before and after it. So I think about it as a temporary suffering, (even if it doesn't seem like it at the time) and one that has a purpose. I tell my family member, you are not suffering in vain, and there will be other lives that are easier and more joyous. I believe that to end our own life, or help someone end their life, deprives them (and perhaps us) of the growing they were meant to do on this earth, this time around. I realize that isn't really in keeping with a lot of people's spiritual beliefs, but it is my belief and it is what helps me get through the days.

Deb

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Posted: 3/29/2013 5:05:29 PM
"Some illnesses are by their very nature much more impulsive, too, or even compulsive."

But Rosie- assisted suicide isn't an impulsive thing. There are meetings, boards, psych evals, medical evals etc to go throughs. Lets say someone with bipolar might think its a good idea one day. They aren't going to be able to get this the next day.
Like I said I am not 100% for assisted suicide for mental illness but that is because of my own issues I need to get over. I just don't see it being abused in a large scale. Even smaller scale. There are so many components in this decision that I don't see how it could be abused.


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Posted: 3/29/2013 5:12:28 PM
I am in favor of assisted suicide for whatever reason the person involved wants it. I don't see any justification for forcing a person to continue living if they don't want to. I think we each have a right to decide what quality of life is or isn't acceptable to us. What another person can handle, or got through, or is willing to tolerate is completely irrelevant.







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Posted: 3/29/2013 5:17:50 PM

Why should the mentally ill be discriminated against?
They aren't being discriminated against. Assisted suicide is reserved for cases of terminal illness. If the patient is terminally ill, I fully support their access to assisted suicide, whether they are mentally ill or not. No discrimination.

Assisted suicide without a terminal illness? I'm against that whether the patient is mentally ill or not. Again, no discrimination.


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Posted: 3/29/2013 5:25:18 PM

I don't see any justification for forcing a person to continue living if they don't want to. I think we each have a right to decide what quality of life is or isn't acceptable to us.
I agree with that. But I still believe that assisted suicide should be reserved for cases of terminal illness.


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Posted: 3/29/2013 5:33:24 PM
I agree with this too:


I don't see any justification for forcing a person to continue living if they don't want to. I think we each have a right to decide what quality of life is or isn't acceptable to us. What another person can handle, or got through, or is willing to tolerate is completely irrelevant.


It's that whole self-determination thing. For as much as I have answered the question in my own head, and I believe what I believe, I realize that not everyone believes that and I don't think that I have the right to answer that question for anyone else.

Deb

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Posted: 3/29/2013 5:47:05 PM
Isn't there some sort of contract that must be signed for assisted suicide? Would a mentally ill person even be able to consent to a contract?

I don't know how I feel, but I am leaning toward if you could not be tried in court because of a mental defect then you can't agree to assisted suicide. If you could be tried, then I suppose you could.

I think the difference is that a terminally ill person can't always get what they need to kill themselves. A mentally ill person could probably take their life on their own.

Maybe if there was an option there wouldn't be so many suicide by cops, columbines, Sandy Hook...


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janet r
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Posted: 3/29/2013 5:58:34 PM
What if you have severe anorexia? That is kind of a terminal illness if it is chronic? Also a mental illness.

I just think it should be an option and highly regulated. Very regulated and have to go before boards and doctors and so on. Not just something done on a whim.

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Posted: 3/29/2013 6:10:20 PM

What if you have severe anorexia? That is kind of a terminal illness if it is chronic? Also a mental illness.
It's only terminal in the sense that it's a slow unassisted suicide. (Lest my tone be misunderstood, that is said with a large dose of self-deprecating irony).


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Posted: 3/29/2013 6:20:29 PM

What if you have severe anorexia? That is kind of a terminal illness if it is chronic? Also a mental illness.



I don't consider anorexia a terminal disease. Anorexia can be cured, it may not be easy and it may be painful, but it can be cured. To me, terminal means it can not be cured under any situation.

melanell
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Posted: 3/29/2013 6:29:53 PM

To me, terminal means it can not be cured under any situation.


I completely hear you, but I also completely expect that those against assisted suicide for any reason to bring out stories of people who were told they were absolutely going to die who made miraculous recoveries, kwim?




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Posted: 3/29/2013 6:32:44 PM

I am a huge believer in assisted suicide in terminal patients. I think it's wrong to prolong suffering in a terminal situation. It's my opinion that if we are willing to put a suffering animal out of it's misery we should show that same respect to a human being.

That said, I do not agree with assisted suicide in a mental health situation. The difference to me is the terminal issue. I do not think that mentally ill people are terminal. I have a ver close family member who battles mental illness and I see the struggle he goes through to live his life and I would not support a decision to have a physician end his life.


As usual, I agree completely with maureen.

For me, one of the key factors in allowing assisted suicide is that the terminally ill patient be of sound enough mind to make that decision for themselves. The other is that the patient in question is suffering from an incurable physical illness that will cause them to endure unimaginable physical suffering that will ultimately result in death.

Neither of those factors is present with mental illness. Mental anguish, while very real, is simply not comparable to the way an illness like cancer or MS can ravage the human body, not to mention the issue of informed and sound consent.

*maureen*
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Posted: 3/29/2013 6:39:21 PM

I completely hear you, but I also completely expect that those against assisted suicide for any reason to bring out stories of people who were told they were absolutely going to die who made miraculous recoveries, kwim?


Oh, I do, but I think it's unrealistic to expect a miracle with everyone.

melanell
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Posted: 3/29/2013 6:53:57 PM

Oh, I do, but I think it's unrealistic to expect a miracle with everyone.


ITA. Nor do I believe that someone should be forced to wait to see if they will be one of the miraculous cases.



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Posted: 3/29/2013 7:25:46 PM

Isn't there some sort of contract that must be signed for assisted suicide? Would a mentally ill person even be able to consent to a contract?

I don't know how I feel, but I am leaning toward if you could not be tried in court because of a mental defect then you can't agree to assisted suicide. If you could be tried, then I suppose you could.

I think the difference is that a terminally ill person can't always get what they need to kill themselves. A mentally ill person could probably take their life on their own.

Maybe if there was an option there wouldn't be so many suicide by cops, columbines, Sandy Hook...


There is so much I want to say about this quote but I have just been sitting here trying to figure out how to put it into words without being obnoxious, and I really can't. So I will just say this:
I am sure that depressed people enter into contracts every day. Being diagnosed with severe depression does not preclude you from buying a home or a car, having a job, or doing many other things that may or may not require a contract. Some people suffering from depression even have their own businesses. They are, in many cases, intelligent, well spoken, creative, imaginative people who just have too little of the right chemical in their brain. Having too little of this chemical does not cause them to shoot up rooms full of kindergartners, or attempt to massacre their high school. There were other things going on there. It is incrediably unfair to lump all people who have experienced mental illness or disability in with those people. (also, I feel pretty confident saying that had Adam Lanza or Dylan Klebold survived we would have had no problem holding them legally responsible for their crimes.)

Deb


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Posted: 3/29/2013 8:22:39 PM
Unfortunately people with mental illness believe no-one can help them!

I myself can testify to that, I really believed no-one could help me!

I was wrong, people like me , or you can be helped but in the grips of a mental illness you can feel that you are beyond help.

I do agree with assisted suicide but if you have a mental illness you would need to show evidence/proof that you have tried everything to tackle your issue cbt, drugs, therapy, etc etc before it could even be discussed as a possible choice.

People with mental health problems often believe there is no help for them but there is....



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Posted: 3/29/2013 9:15:28 PM

I am in favor of assisted suicide for whatever reason the person involved wants it. I don't see any justification for forcing a person to continue living if they don't want to. I think we each have a right to decide what quality of life is or isn't acceptable to us. What another person can handle, or got through, or is willing to tolerate is completely irrelevant.


I completely agree with this.


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Posted: 3/29/2013 9:25:30 PM
Mental illness is very common and includes such a range of issues that I find it impossible to agree or disagree. Also, many mental illnesses are treatable so the prognosis for each individual would impact my opinion.

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Posted: 3/29/2013 9:42:22 PM
I am in complete agreement with assisted suicide, however, I feel one must be "in their right mind" for lack of better words, to make such a decision. I think the nature of this medical illness makes it hard to have a right answer. I struggle either way with it but leaning more towards no.


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Posted: 3/29/2013 9:57:43 PM
My FIL committed suicide three years ago, after battling severe depression for years, and with a new diagnosis of dementia. After going through that, I am absolutely for assisted suicide.




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Posted: 3/29/2013 9:59:36 PM
I am a suicide survivor: My brother took his own life in 2002. He suffered from an extreme case of rapid cycling bi-polar depression. I believe in assisted suicide for the mentally sound terminally ill. I also believe in assisted suicide for those with Alzheimer's who choose to end their lives while they are of sound mind rather than suffer the indignity of that illness. But I do not believe in assisted suicide for the mentally ill. It is about perception, and in many cases those who suffer from mental illness suffer from skewed perceptions about their illness: their view of the world, their view of their quality of life and their view of how the world perceives them. There are new drugs and new treatments being developed. The stigma of having the disease is also a big part of the problem. The biggest gift my brother gave me was that with his passing, my own condition (bipolar type II) was diagnosed. I would never support assisted suicide for those who suffer from mental illness.


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Posted: 3/29/2013 10:30:02 PM

Would a mentally ill person even be able to consent to a contract?


Um yes. Sorry but this comment is just plain crazy. Lots of us here have mental illnesses. I bet you know more than you think.




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Posted: 3/29/2013 10:53:38 PM
Wow! This is a tough one for me. You have really given me something to think about. I have suffered from severe clinical depression for over 10 years now. I have been so low that I wasn't living, if you know what I mean. I spent months hospitalised, going home on weekends. This happened about 4 times over a period of years. I have been on every combination of drugs known to mankind. In the end, I did almost two years of ect's or shock treatments. They saved my life, literally. I tried a few times to end it all, but I guess I wasn't serious as I am still here.

I harbour great guilt over my absence from my dd's lives over this period of time. I tried my best, but I know it was hard for all of us.
Dh took the reins and we had lots of battles over the years. In my heart, I know that if I went down the slippery slope again, I would not make it out alive. I know that as surely as I breath. I take all my medications religously, but always fear the day they might not work any longer.

I do believe in assisted suicide for terminal illness. I agree with the statement that we allow our pets to die without suffering, yet don't give ourselves the same right. My father always said that if he reached the stage where living wasn't joyful, he wanted to end his life. If he couldn't do it himself, he wanted help. He died last year after a very rough 3 years fight against parkinsons. He was fully cognizant up to the end, with a few periods of dementia in between. During all that time, he never complained and he never mentioned suicide. If he had, I am not sure what we would have done.

I guess that I believe if the person knows fully what they are asking for and knows the consequences of that action, then they should be allowed the dignity to die how they wish. That being said, I don't believe that someone in the middle of severe mental illness can fully understand the consequences and ramifications of their actions. They just want out. And that makes this one very difficult question.

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Posted: 3/30/2013 12:06:15 PM

Would a mentally ill person even be able to consent to a contract?


Um yes. Sorry but this comment is just plain crazy. Lots of us here have mental illnesses. I bet you know more than you think.



I am not a lawyer but it is my understanding that in order to enter into a contract that you must have "competent parties". If someone's mental illness is severe (or physical illness) they could not enter into a contract. That was a good question.

I don't think someone with mental health/illness issues dealing with life on a day to day basis would be stopped from entering into contracts but if someone wanted to end their life as proposed in this thread, their competency to enter into a contract would be questioned.

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Posted: 3/30/2013 1:24:25 PM
What struck me the most about your question is the idea of "being a burden". This is a phrase my son (14) uses when he's in the middle of a crisis. Never in a gazillion years would I want him to think that just because he *thinks* he's a burden he has the option of killing himself...assisted or otherwise. We work constantly to remind him what a horrible, tragic, unfathomable thing life would be for those of left behind. Just the idea of not having, even with all the drama that comes with having an Aspie, depressed, anxious and hormonal teenage boy brings...it reduces me to tears.

I get the feelings behind wanting to give a person the option of choosing their time to die, but I just can't bring myself to accept this as a reasonable option for anyone, at any time.


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