Thursday, August 10, 2023

Euthanasia for mental illness?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Batya Swift Yasgur, MA, LSW wrote a commentary that was published by Medscape on August 3, 2023 entitled: Euthanasia for Mental Illness - Right or Wrong?

Yasgur is offering a discussion on the topic in relation to a recent article by psychiatrist Dinah Miller who stated:
"To offer the option of death facilitated by the very person who is trying to get [patients with serious mental illness] better seems so counter to everything I have learned and contradicts our role as psychiatrists who work so hard to prevent suicide,"

"As psychiatrists, do we offer hope to our most vulnerable patients, or do we offer death? Do we rail against suicide, or do we facilitate it?
The recent story of Kathrin Mentler, a Canadian who lives with chronic suicidal thoughts who was offered euthanasia while she was seeking help during a mental health crisis, places the issue of euthanasia for mental illness in the proper context.

Mentler was told by the counsellor that the mental health system was "completely overwhelmed", that there were no available beds, and the earliest that she could speak with a psychiatrist was November. The discussion with the counsellor continued:
“It was pretty disheartening and made me feel helpless,”
“I’m coming here because I’m looking for help and you’re telling me there is no help.”
That’s when the counsellor asked Mentler if she’d ever considered medically assisted suicide.

Mentler says she was “shocked” and “sickened” because she came to the Access and Assessment Centre for help, “not for recommendations on how to kill myself.”

She says the counsellor explained how MAID worked and said lots of patients asked about it, adding patients don’t “suffer” because they take benzodiazepines before receiving the lethal injection.
The counsellor told Mentler that she was relieved when another patient who was unable to get treatment drowned. Mentler said that the story of a patient who died by drowning “made me feel like my life was worthless or a problem that could be solved if I chose MAID.”

Mentler has filed a complaint with Vancouver Coastal Health and asked for the Access and Assessment Centre to give her her files from that day.

Mixing mental health counselling and treatment with euthanasia undermines the patient's life. 

The patient needs professional help not death.

No comments: