Upon reading Try Harder with Your Mental Illness by Henrietta M Ross of The Triumphant Weed, I remembered a topic that has been on my mind lately—whether we have the right to die.
Though I preach hope and advocate that people try treatment instead of taking their lives, I wonder whether it is reasonable to decide to die when the pain is too great to bear and does not respond to any treatment.
I often feel disingenuous telling people that there is hope, for that is not always true. Some of us living with mental illness respond more effectively to medication, psychotherapy, support, exercise, good nutrition, meditation and so on. Some do not.
No one chooses to have “treatment resistant” mental illness. We cannot will mental illness away. Treatment does not always work. Still, sometimes there are options we have not considered, options supported by science, that just may work.
My friend Dyane Harwood chose ECT when medication failed her. ECT saved her life when she suffered deep bipolar depression. With the help of an astute psychiatrist, she eventually found that adding an “old school” MAOI to her medication mix helped.
I assume I will get some fire, and perhaps some concern, for this post.
Further Thoughts on the Issue…
People With Mental Illness Deserve To Die With Dignity Too, Arthur Gallant, Mental-health advocate
Assisted Suicide for Mental Illness Gaining Ground, Nancy A. Melville
“A first-of-its-kind report offers insights into the characteristics and outcomes of requests for euthanasia on the grounds of suffering related to psychiatric illness in Belgium, where it is legal in that country.”
“We found that when considering patients’ demands seriously, most do find a way to continue with their life,” Dr Thienpont said.
Euthanasia requests, procedures and outcomes for 100 Belgian patients suffering from psychiatric disorders: a retrospective, descriptive study (Thienpont, 2015, BMJ Open 2015;5:e007454 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007454)
“In Europe, psychological suffering stemming from either a somatic or mental disorder is acknowledged as a valid legal basis for euthanasia only in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.”