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Why assisted suicide for the mentally troubled is so problematic

By the author of ‘Final Exit’

11 Responses to “Thoughts on assisted suicide for the mentally ill”

  1. Deepak Modak says:

    I’m shocked and saddened by Mr. Humphry’s essay on why the mentally ill should not be given the right to end their lives in a dignified manner.

    Just a few weeks ago, I read about a man, in the U.S., who suffered from schizophrenia for about two decades, and who tragically ended his life by jumping in front of a train (a gruesome death, no doubt).

    Many mental illnesses such as schizophrenia are not curable; while there is no doubt that caution is required in the case of mental illnesses (as some people might get better with medication), in the case of aprolonged mental illness, assisted suicide is the best way forward.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Don’t presume to make judgments on people unless you’ve walked in their shoes. I’ve suffered from major depression all my life. I’ve watched the people I love suffer because of my illness, to the point of ruining their lives. My hands are tied because I don’t want my children to have to deal with the stigma of suicide. But I pray every minute of every day that I’ll contract a terminal disease or die of a massive heart attack. I smoke and drink to excess, hoping that will speed things along. I am a useless, parasitic, blight on humanity; a worthless lump of protoplasm roaming through life, consuming resources and providing absolutely nothing in return. I don’t even want to go to heaven or hell. I just hope I’ll evaporate into nothingness when I die.
    Don’t feel sorry for this poor person who is misunderstood. I have spent the last 30 years going to counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, taken so many prescriptions, naturopathic remedies, hormone replacements, and everything else “modern” science has to offer, and NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING has helped. It has been suggested to me that I enjoy being miserable. If that was true, why have I spent every day of almost my entire life picturing myself blowing my brains out with a gun? Maybe someday there will be help for people like me. But there isn’t now. I wish so badly that I had ended my life years ago, before I married, before children, when I really wanted to. Before “good friends” and family stepped in and convinced me that I could be helped, that it wasn’t that bad, that I just needed a pill or two. HAH! They have no idea how their well-meaning intervention has simply prolonged my agony and ruined the lives of the ones I love.
    Take my advice. Keep your nose out of other people’s business.

    Derek Humphry
    responds: In my posting I did not condemn a person’s right to suicide. What my message was about was the difficulty presented in ASSISTING a suicide. I believe that everybody has the right to end their life if it is unbearable to them.

  3. anon says:

    as far as my thoughts go i think that the law should allow a person to assist their loved ones with a suicide but would have to make them sign a letter or whatever they would have to sign proving that they have gone along with this so that the person that “helps” them is not in any fault whatsoever, but if they can live with themselves after “helping” their loved one then i guess i have nothing to say

  4. Ranee Kennedy says:

    Mr. Humphrey’s ignorance is appalling.

    “Poor mental health can be treated”. This is utter rubbish.

    Millions of people suffer from severe, untreatable mental illnesses. The constantly repeated slogan that “depression is treatable” is an insult to the people who have suffered with it for decades, through every therapy, medication, and shock therapy with no relief in sight.

    It is certainly treatable in SOME people, but those who have found no relief after decades must no longer be swept under the rug by this ignorant one-sided argument. It is past high time that the problem of long-term sufferers of mental illness be brought out into the open, and their right to a decent, peaceful death of their own choosing be recognized.

    The chronically depressed, bipolar, borderline, and other mentally ill people are presumed competent to make decisions about their jobs, marriage, children, etc. Only when it comes to a chosen death does society start calling them “incompetent”.

    Dr. Ludwig Minelli of Dignitas is leading the way in a movement which will be as important in the coming years as the Hemlock society was in the past. Let us encourage his success in continuing to fight for our rights.

    DEREK HUMPHRY RESPONDS: The writer mistakes the word ‘treatable’ for ‘curable’. Treatable means the condition can be alleviated without it being cured. Medications have helped milliions of people. It seems as though the writer has not seen in my article that I do believe that EVERYBODY has the right to bring their own life to end an end if they so wish. The dilemma is whether they should get active assistance in doing so.

  5. Miguel says:

    I just want to say that I desire my assisted suicide. I am schizophrenic there is treatment but not cure. People can’t understand what this makes me suffer. My emotions are conditioned I can’t cry anymore for example. I feel like my mind it’s in a cage sometimes.
    My suffering it’s incommunicable. I am forced to use psychiatric drugs and I don’t have any choice for nothing. That’s unfair and painful. I think I should die with dignity and that will not happen.

  6. rockhawkmills says:

    Anonymous, I really see what you’re saying. I’ve been suffering from schizophrenia for over 10 years. There’s all these people out there who assume they fully understand me. Well, they don’t! That’s why I don’t like to talk to people. Yeah, you have to be in someone’s shoes to really understand them. Schizophrenia is so complicated that it’s impossible to understand unless you’re in their shoes. I have a severe form of schizophrenia, not the mild kind that can simply be treated with some nonsense pills. Nothing works for me, not pills, not psychiatrists, not conversations, nothing period. I already know every day is going to be a bad day. Every day I want to die. I used to cry about suicide, but now I don’t have any more tears to cry about when I think about suicide. I don’t think anyone genuinely feels sorry for me. Everyone has either given up on me or think I’m a worthless, weird, subhuman piece of garbage. I feel so alone every day, it’s a painful feeling. I can breathe and walk, but mentally, I feel like I’m undergoing torture. Whatever I do, even if I try so hard, I’m going to fail in life. I know that feeling of severe schizophrenia…it’s the most horrible feeling in the world, you have to be in someone’s shoe to feel it. I wish I ended my life when my schizophrenia started, I wish my family was without me and didn’t have to see me, I know that by living life, I agree to be tortured forever every day.

  7. jlgend says:

    Comments for miguel and rockhawkmills, i totally understand your pain, although not diagnosed schizophrenic i knew and know there is something very wrong with my mind, i have coped with this problem for many years and have hidden it from people, i finally broke down and am now in total agony, every day the same. Nobody really believes that anything is wrong because of how i conducted my life but i am to the point that i want the end for myself. Mental disease is a death sentence and i believe most is genetic but also stem from abnormal upbringing, maybe prolonged craziness or negativity i dont know but i believe that it is worse than something that can be treated like cancer or other such diseases but again i do understand and what are ways or where are contacts to find out how to end your life. thank you

  8. ergo says:

    Everybody has the right to take their own life if they wish. That’s my view. (It is not the view of most religions.) My essay is about the moral dilemma of a person ASSISTING
    the suicide of a person with mental illness. — Derek Humphry, author, ‘Final Exit’.

  9. desperate says:

    I realise that most people do not understand the depth of agony that a mental illness can cause an idividual. And therefore do not have as much appothy for them as they would for someone who suffers with physical pain.
    However I can assure you that the pain is very real and often more painful than any physical pain you may have ever experenced.

    What people need to understand is that just because there are medications out there that are ment to treat mental conditions does not mean that they are always adequate or that they are of any help at all in some cases. Most times the medications have many intolerable side effects of their own.

    Not all people with a mental illness are treatable!

    There are people out there who generaly have a sound mind and yet they suffer a great deal with mental illnesses that can not be treated with medications or therapy. They struggle with every day life and ordinary tasks and in extream cases are compleatly handicaped, unable to leave their houses and unable to function at all.
    That is no life at all. I fail to see the difference between someone such as that and someone who is dieing of cancer.

    To make a blanket statement that mentaly ill people can just take a pill and or go to therapy is just ignorant and insensitive.

    Untill they can create a CURE for mental illness than I believe every reasonably competent person with a mental illness deserves the right to choose life or death and deserves the right to have assistance with their choice and not have to resort to poor attempts with sleeping pills and razor blades

  10. ergo says:

    The penultimate paragraph to this posting — ‘blanket statement….etc’ –has not been made by me. But the fact remains that some –some — people are helped — (helped) — by therapy and medications. Clearly others are not. Why doesn’t somebody start up an organization campaigning for the right of the mentally ill to have assisted suicide, as I did Hemlock and ERGO for the terminally and hopelessly ill? D H

  11. pebbles20 says:

    I have suffered with mental health problems since i was quite young, i took my first overdose at the tender age of 13 i am now 34, i have tried everything to help with my pain, nothing has worked and i hate seeing my family suffer because of my health, i was sexually abused for many years as a child and was raped by my first boyfriend, i now cant have children because of all this, i didnt ask to be abused or ill but i am, if i could take my own life this way i would, anybody who says its not right for someone with deppresion to have assisted suicide obviously hasnt suffered with it, im a prisoner in my own home, i have no friends or partner, you can not imagine what my life has been like, ive had treatments, tried every drug available, some help a little but there is no miracle cure, i cant carry on this way and if there is anything i can do to end my suffering i will.

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