Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Case against Assisted Suicide for Mental Illness

A contact who wishes to remain anonymous sent us this letter.

The Cracks and the Light
“There is a crack in everything; that is how the light gets in…” Leonard Cohen
This is not a story about miraculous healing or cure. This is a story about living with my “cracks,” having moments of despair, and living, letting the light in and shining my unique light out to others in their moments of hopeless. I am a survivor of suicidal ideation, and of living a life that many times I believed was not worth living.

I lived with a mental health condition since childhood. If you want to die; I get it. I am not going to tell you that your feelings are invalid, or that life is always amazing.

“Life is so beautiful and life is so hard…” - Kate Bowler.
That being said, new legislation proposals around allowing assisted suicide for mental illnesses has prompted huge personal reflection on my part and also pursued me to plead the case against allowing this to pass. I hope to give a voice to those who may be unable to write their story.

I have learned that recovery is not either/or, recovery does not necessarily mean “cure.” We can have chronic illnesses and we can live with meaning at the same time. Although, we cannot do this alone; we need support, and connection with others who can share in this vision of recovery.

Dr. Pat Deegan is a psychologist and she is also someone who lives with schizophrenia. Much of her work has focused on the ideas of mental health recovery; 

"Recovery is not the urge to become normal. The goal is to embrace our human vocation of becoming more deeply, more fully human…Living in mental health recovery is not an end goal…but an ever deepening acceptance of our limitations and the doorway to what we can do and contribute." (Pat Deegan)
Recovery includes setbacks and joys. We can live with a chronic, incurable conditions, experience intolerable suffering…and not be assisted in our death, even if we may feel we want this when facing despair and emotional pain.

Our feelings and us being allowed to “act on it” are different.

I have learned that living with mental illnesses does not mean searching for perfect wellness. It can mean redesigning a life that is meaningful for us which includes all emotions, all experiences. Recovery will mean both moments of hopelessness and moments of peace.

We can both want death sometimes, and not actively pursue it. I have come to a place in my own journey where I am able to not only survive painful emotions and experiences, but also to allow resurrection out of my own suffering to bloom into positive for others. This has taken a long a time and had this legislation been passed years ago, I may not be here writing.

Allowing assisted suicide for mental illness opens the door for us to act. It changes the vision of the “light at the end of the tunnel” to become dreams of death rather than dreams of hope and our continued striving to find what we need to live and thrive with our perhaps “incurable conditions.” Through this legislation we may stop fighting for those who are so close to finding their irreplaceable way of letting the light in through the cracks and shining their very special light out to others…

Thank you.


Unknown said...

Thank you for this article. It is so refreshing to read such a well put article and by one who has 'let the light in'. Surely government legislation and funding would be far better put to the support and care of people with such challenges!

Chooken Chaser said...

God Bless You, on your journey.
Brave, persevering soul.
Been in that valley myself - such a humbling experience...
Love Melinda in Australia married to a Canadian for nearly 30yrs