Sunday, June 30, 2019

Psychiatric euthanasia is a death sentence for depressed people.

By Mark Hodges (EPC Researcher)

This is for all the lonely people, thinking that life has passed them by: Don’t Give Up...” sang the pop group America in their 1974 number five hit song. Today, however, more and more doctors say to lonely people, “If you think life has passed you by, we’ll help kill you.” 

As we get older, it is normal to have regrets, or miss the exuberance of youth. The elderly can often experience reflective, sometimes melancholy moods. With age come various physical limitations and pains.

It often takes a loss of our youthful self-reliance to foster introspection necessary to recognize the most important things in life. “Teach me to number my days,” says the ancient proverb, “that I may gain a heart of wisdom.”

But today, instead of addressing the stages of life and its challenges, more and more doctors, where euthanasia is legal, are willing to end life --for no physical reason.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition explained.
“I have significant experience with people as they approach death, and it is natural to become unsure, or to feel your life has lost purpose, or to be depressed, or have feelings of loneliness. These are normal feelings,”  
“The sad reality with euthanasia and assisted suicide is that these normal feelings, once killing is legal, can become a death request, rather than a normal process of being human.”
Charles Bentz
Oregon Dr. Charles Bentz is just one example among many. His patient, an avid outdoorsman, was diagnosed with cancer, and became depressed. Dr. Bentz’ was asked to approve the assisted suicide death of his patient.

I said, ‘Wait a minute... What’s going on? Let’s talk about this,” Dr. Bentz recounted. But his colleague “must have found someone else, because two weeks later his patient was dead from an overdose of a medication.”
“So my colleague saw a patient with depression, but instead of addressing his depression, she gave him the means to kill himself.”
Dr. Bentz’ experience is not unique.

In the Netherlands, a woman in her twenties suffering from post-traumatic stress was given a lethal injection –despite her documented improvement after therapy. Doctors even admitted that a request for death could be really a cry for help. The woman’s therapy “was temporarily partially successful,” yet she was killed anyway.

Another healthy woman was euthanized because she and her deceased husband had agreed not to go on living after one of them died. She was granted a lethal injection, even though she “did not feel depressed at all. She ate, drank and slept well. She followed the news and undertook activities.”

In 2014, a healthy Italian woman was killed at a Swiss suicide clinic because she was depressed over how she looked.

Rosie DiManno
The Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno explains what happens when someone falls into dark despair. 

“The ‘black dog’ clinical depression…locks on with pit bull jaws. And you forget that it will pass or at least abate. In the moment, it feels unendurable. Sometimes, you want to die.”
DiManno reasons that clinical depression clouds one’s thinking, and therefore depressed patients should not be candidates for assisted suicide. She says:
“Descending into that dark place where hopelessness – and psychical fatigue, really, just so damn tired of misery – renders rational thought impossible”
Enabling suicide is the opposite of medical treatment. All the more so for depressed patients. DiManno criticizes Belgium and the Netherlands –which now kill non-terminal people suffering from “incurable distress”— as “knocking off the depressed, because that’s what they want, as if the deeply disconsolate can possibly make an informed decision.”
“Among those “approved’’ for death have been people with autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis, manic depression, Alzheimer’s and a 24-year-old transgender man devastated by the failure of a sex-change surgery. None of these patients was dying. They just feel real bad… They were morbidly disconsolate and frail of mind. Which is a far sight from terminally ill and dying.”
Senator Denise Batters
Canada also legalized euthanasia for “psychological suffering.” Canadian Senator Denise Batters, whose husband died by suicide, spoke against assisted suicide for depression. 
“The committee did not require that illness be terminal or life-threatening. It included psychological suffering as grounds for physician-assisted death — without any requirement to consult a psychiatrist. It even recommended extending physician-assisted suicide to…those under 18.”
The New York Times ran an article pointing out that, 
“According to psychiatric experts, the vast majority of people requesting suicide are suffering from treatable depression, and no longer want to kill themselves once their underlying depression is resolved.” 
“Once the depression lifts and people can think more clearly, the therapists say, those who were determined to kill themselves are thankful to be alive, despite their pain or grim prognosis.”
Senator Batters argued.
“The preservation of hope for mentally ill people is absolutely paramount,” 
“Those who endure psychological suffering need our support, our resources and our promise that we will never give up on them, even when they can see no other option but to give up on themselves.”
An analysis of Maine’s new so-called “Death With Dignity” law noted that 
“severely depressed or mentally ill patients can receive assisted suicide without having any form of counseling.”
Indeed, there is nothing in existing Maine law (or Oregon, Washington, or Vermont law) that requires doctors to refer patients to a therapist in order to screen for treatable depression or mental illness before enabling their suicide.

Society’s response to depression in the elderly or in youth or for people with disabilities must not be to enable their death, but to reach out to them on a personal level, and connect them to people and activities that restore a sense of being loved and wanted.

Instead, the number of suicides keeps growing, along with the rising rates of depression. Our Western culture canonizing individualism only exacerbates the depression epidemic.

The Center for Disease Control documented that between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate in America increased in every state (except Nevada, which remained in the top ten states for suicide).

Judith Shulevitz in The New Republic reports that one in three Americans over 45 identifies as chronically lonely. One survey found:

“One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feels as though there are people who really understand them. Two in five Americans…feel that they are isolated from others (43 percent). One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).”
Signs of depression include feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, a loss of interest in daily activities, and a loss of energy. A severely depressed person my also idealize suicide by talking about self-harm, becoming pre-occupied with death, or saying things like “everyone would be better off without me.”

Schadenberg reveals 
“Society can reduce the scourge of suicide and the cultural abandonment associated with assisted suicide by caring for and being with others at their time of need,” 
“It is essential that people who feel their life lacks value or purpose, or feel no one cares, are offered purpose, support and genuine hope from their significant community.”
Schadenberg concludes
“Suicide is a symptom of mental illness, not a cure for it,”  
“The answer is not only talking about it, the answer is inclusion, caring and being with others as they journey through the difficult times of their lives.” 
Tom Mortier
Tom Mortier, who wasn’t informed of his mother’s death until the day after a doctor killed her for being depressed commented 
“The big problem in our society is that we have apparently lost the meaning of taking care of each other,” 
Professor Gregory Crawford of the Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine for the Royal Australian College of Physicians emphasized that people asking to die often need to be diagnosed and treated for depression. He relayed an example of one of his terminal patients who wanted to die. He treated her for severe depression by changing her medication, and
“She made a miraculous improvement, both physically and psychologically. She improved and lived for another 12 months. She had serious, progressive disease but her physical function and her ability to interact and live improved. She went off on a holiday, achieved some other things on her wish list and made lots of other nice memories for her family. She died at home, supported by our palliative care.”
Crawford concluded. 
“It showed me that sometimes the symptoms of impending death and the symptoms of advanced depression can look very much the same,” 
Andrew Lawton
Another example is Canadian media personality Andrew Lawton. He shared.   
“Nearly seven years ago I overdosed on dozens of pills — causing multiple cardiac arrests and weeks in hospital on life support,” 
“Everything from the method to the date and time was meticulously thought out... I’m sure I could have sold my own suicide given how convinced I was that it was the right call. That wouldn’t have made it any less flawed a conclusion.”
Lawton continued
“Suicidal people are irrational... This is true even when decisions appear to be made through logic and reason.” 
“I appeared normal, despite not thinking normally. I saw suicide as the answer to pain I was convinced wouldn’t abate. I had tried myriad therapies, medications, and treatment throughout my years-long battle with depression. By the time I tried to pull the plug on my own existence, none had made an impact.”
After Lawton’s nearly successful suicide attempt, his attitude changed. Healing didn’t happen overnight, he says, and his circumstances didn’t change -- “but my outlook did.”
“In 2010, no one could have told me happiness was possible. Today, I am married to the love of my life, working in a successful career, and able to look forward each day — all just a few years after I signed my own death warrant.”
People who are depressed are in the middle of, as Alcoholics Anonymous puts it, “stinking thinking.” They need help out of their depression, not the enabling and furthering of their mental darkness by assisted death.

Senator Batters points out the fallacy in suicide as a treatment for depression. She argues
“Physical and psychological illnesses are (not) the same,”“Psychological suffering on its own is not terminal. It is usually treatable.”
 Lawton agrees
“Mental and physical illness can’t be lumped into one category,” 
“When illness is in the mind, rather than the body, it calls any decision into question — an irreversible one all the more so.”
Batters adds
“Delivering the means to suicide straight into the hands of mentally ill individuals directly contradicts the suicide prevention standard in the mental health field.”
Lawton concludes.
“The role of health-care practitioners is…not to enable one’s disordered thinking by killing them,”  
“State-sanctioned death doesn’t help the mentally ill — it robs them of a chance for healing.”
Another problem with legalizing suicide for depressed people is there is no legal standard for “unbearable suffering” or “incurable depression.”

A major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry concluded, “There is no evidence base to operationalize ‘unbearable suffering,’ there are no prospective studies of decision-making capacity in persons seeking EAS for psychiatric reasons, and the prognosis of patients labeled as ‘treatment-resistant depression’ varies considerably, depending on the population and the kind of treatments they receive.”

The British Medical Journal also published a study which concluded, “‘Unbearable suffering’ has not yet been defined adequately.” 

Schadenberg explains.
“People ask for euthanasia because they have lost hope. They may be in depression or experiencing distress, darkened by their reality, and feel that life has lost its purpose or value,”  
“In the past, doctors took this request to die as a cry for help, and they tried to find out what their patient needs to weather his or her overwhelming difficulty… I want a physician who will protect my life when I’m going through my deepest darkest times. When I’m going through that physical, psychological, emotional, or existential distress and I’m so darkened that I can’t see beyond my own difficulty, I need a physician who will say ‘no’ to me and will care for me, not kill me.”
Assisted suicide and euthanasia are not about freedom for the sufferer; it’s about abandoning the patient –particularly patients in despair. 

1 comment:

bhuvankapoor said...

It negatively affects your physical wellbeing

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