09/08/18 Euthanasia and mental ill health

****mentions suicidal ideation***

I read this article today,

‘The troubled 29-year-old helped to die by Dutch doctors’

with a mixture of feelings from hollow sadness, to anger, to frustration, finally settling down on, good God, that could have been me.

It’s easy to slip into the ‘Parity of Esteem’ argument – where we can say, ‘If Euthenasia is seen as a viable option for people with an intolerable/ terminal physical condition, then surely the same choice should be given to folk with mental health problems.’

Or something very similar.

I can only speak from my personal experience here – but I don’t think our society is anywhere near ready for the euthanasia of me or any of my peers.

Our society – sadly – is both discriminating and stigmatising.

If we could look at a specific mental health problem in a vacuum away from this, then I think it would be worth consideration.

However, we are told, almost on a daily basis, that we are a burden on society.

We’re benefit scroungers – living off society – habitually drinking and smoking with our flat screen TV’s and mobile phones and our hordes of children…

To amplify this 10 fold, our welfare system has been made so laughingly impossible for applicants with mental health problems that the underclaiming of benefits is a much bigger problem than fraud.

The NHS describes us as a disease burden. But no, we shouldn’t take offence, that’s a technical term to describe the cost our maladies might have on society.

This feeling of being a burden is perpetuated in the media – through TV shows and news stories – so much so, that when someone develops a mental health problem we seldom consider the environment that caused, grew and cultured that problem.

Very quickly the person and not the cause becomes the problem.

That’s galvanised when many of us are told we’re not engaging with services. Services that are often set up to ensure the wellbeing of the organisation and not the person…

And yet…the shortcomings in the services become our problem. We can either be ‘too mad’ or ‘not mad enough’ to get access to the help we need.

Wild, eh?

We have housing providers that can legitimately say, ‘No benefits’ as they pass the responsibility onto the buy to let mortgage lenders who can also say ‘No’ to people on benefits.

We know that disability hate crime is on the increase – and yet the belief that folk with mental health problems are a danger to society dominates when the reverse is true.

Imagine experiencing suicidal ideation in this kind of environment?

I have, and I still do. It’s more easily managed now that I know to treat it like the imposter it is. For me it’s a defence mechanism – a pretty desperate one that allows me to consider there’s an escape from the racket in my head.

If I’d been offered euthanasia when I was 29, I can’t honestly say what I would have done. Those intense, terrifying feelings combined with the steady drip feed of how I, and people like me were a burden would have made it a very tempting option.

My life’s great – except for that third of the time where I dissociate. I’ve a horrible feeling I would have missed out on that had the option to take my life with medical assistance had presented itself to me.

I don’t pretend to have the answers here, but without getting our society in order, I really believe we can’t begin to consider euthanasia for people with mental health problems.

Walk a Mile


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1 Response to 09/08/18 Euthanasia and mental ill health

  1. Dee says:

    I’m jealous that she had the option of slipping away peacefully with loved ones by her side. I have actually looked into euthanasia, contacted dignitas but got no reply. At what point can you say you have tried hard enough, for long enough?

    On the oyhr hand I am horrified that they helped her kill herself, and don’t want to see this happen to other people with BPD.

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