Friday, September 17, 2021

Dr Paul Saba: The mentally ill should not be euthanized.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Paul Saba
Dr Paul Saba, the author of the book Made to Live and a long-time leader opposing euthanasia in Quebec, had an article published in the Suburban on September 9, 2021 titled: The mentally ill shold not be euthanized. Saba starts his article by writing about one of his patients:

This past year I cared for a young woman in her early 20s. Carole (pseudonym) has extreme anxiety and depression which has been going on for years. Carole is a community worker who works with the homeless. During the COVID pandemic her symptoms were exacerbated to the point that she has become anorexic. Unfortunately access to dieticians, psychiatrists and psychologists has been extremely difficult and limited. By seeing her on a regular basis and making myself readily available, I have kept her from giving up hope. Because of her long term psychological suffering, the recent law of Medical Assistance in Dying [MAID] could make Carole a candidate for euthanasia.

Saba then reminds the reader that the recent passing of Bill C-7 means that mental illness has been added as a reason for euthanasia. Saba writes:

I recently participated at Quebec’s Parliamentary hearings with Montreal attorney Me Natalia Manole.] Mental illness includes the following disorders: anxiety, depression, bipolarity, obsession-compulsion, psychosis, substance abuse, anorexia, and Asperger’s syndrome spectrum.

The causes of these mental disorders include: stress, substance abuse, low self-esteem, difficulty in adapting, personal loss, abuse, homelessness, isolation, job loss, and low income. Treatment of mental illness includes social supports, psychotherapies and psychiatric medications. A 2017 Canadian Psychiatric Association study indicates that only 29% of Canadian psychiatrists support MAID in cases of mental illness.

Even in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is practiced on the mentally ill, two-thirds of psychiatrists are opposed to it. In addition, studies show that at least 90% of people who have ended their lives by suicide were affected by mental health problems. Needless to add, most people who have attempted or committed suicide do not necessarily want to die; rather, they want to escape from their overwhelming emotional pain.

Saba then states that to be approved for euthanasia the person needs to be able to freely consent. Saba asks: But how can a mentally ill person give a free and clear consent when the desire to die is a symptom of mental illness? Saba explains that 9 out of 10 people who attempt suicide, but survive, do not end up dying by suicide but with euthanasia there are no failed attempts, all will be dead.

Saba concludes:

We need to communicate to those contemplating suicide that we do not want them to die, that they are valuable to us, there is always a reason to live, and we will help them solve their problems. We need to provide more psychological, social and financial help for those who are in distress. We must improve their living conditions by providing affordable housing, food, and basic life supports. Those with dependency problems need access to care. We need to care for those with mental health problems- not support or endorse MAID.

You can order Dr Saba's book, Made to Live from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (Link).

1 comment:

Lillian M.Oliver said...

We need many more Doctors like Dr Saba along with millions of people to pray for the mentally ill to be treated with dignity and a holy system of reaching out to help them.