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@Sue McKeown, suicide rates are higher in the LGBTQ+ community, ther very poor, and amongst First Nations youth living in northern communities. I was actually thinking of these groups when I posted, but didn’t mention them because this article is about illness. Society is largely to blame for the suicides in these groups, certainly. No-one is suggesting the possibility of offering MAiD to these groups other than yourself.

Mental illness that cannot be relieved causes suffering just as equivalent to physical illness. Perhaps more because people cannot see it and often don’t offer the sympathy they should. And empathy is difficult for them to summon because they may have felt physically ill or in pain, but may not have ever had a mental illness. If treatment works for an individual, then they wouldn’t desire MAiD. However, there are people for whom it doesn’t work, and I have known many such people. It is these people that should be offered MAiD.

Society isn’t going to change for a long, long time, if ever.

Death itself is not always a tragedy. For most of the very old and very sick, it is a release. MAiD could offer release to those suffering terribly with irremediable mental illness. For family and friends, this may seem unfair, but to give the choice to someone suffering is a gift. Family and friends must think of the suffering that living imposes upon their loved one. People usually feel grief and anger when someone they care about dies, but it is usually for themselves. When my best friend killed himself 8 years ago, I was angry at him for an act that seemed so selfish. But I realise now that he had gone on living beyond the point that he could bear, to avoid inflicting pain on others. Ultimately, he had lived for others and chosen to die for himself. It has taken me years to understand that by expecting him to live because I wanted him to, I was being selfish, and I was being callous to the pain he was in. I wish he’d had MAiD as an option, rather than the messy way out he found. I am horrified when I think about the possible suffering his method may have brought him while he died, but I realise that he’d suffered inconceivably for many, many years for my sake and the sake of others, and that for us to insist he continue to do so was selfish and ignoring the extent of suffering he was enduring.

He had all the social supports, the medications, the therapy. Nothing worked. The drugs had harmful side effects that damaged his body and brain, causing pain, cognitive function impairment, and worsened anxiety and depression. He was suffering terribly for decades and knew nothing would help him. Dealing with a mental illness was hard enough without his body causing additional suffering, and his brain losing the fine intellect he had had.

MAiD offers a time and place. My friend’s death came as a shock. I wasn’t notified until days afterwards; his body had already been cremated. There was no closure, no reassurance, no peace for those of us left behind. It would have been far kinder a thing for all of us if we had been able to join him by his death-bed, at a time of his choosing, express our love and say our goodbyes to a dear man who was going to die peacefully without pain or fear. It was what he wanted, what he needed, and we had no right to deny him of it.

To allow someone we love to leave us when they need to is true love.

It would have been far better.