Friday, 24 June 2011

Mental Illness and the Right to Die

One thing that really gets under my skin these days is the trivialisation of mental illness and the constant belittling that people like me can suffer. I have recently been pleasantly surprised at Dignitas's plans, due to their new-found treatment of mental illness as if it were physical illness - no more messy suicides, no more 'rescues' and no more horrible, crippling failures. You see, although people don't seem to realise it these days, mental illness is every bit as painful, disheartening and life-wrecking as physical illness is - perhaps even more so in some cases. Yes, I have a disorder which causes me to contemplate suicide most of the time. But no, in no way does that mean my wishes are not completely sincere - I've been thinking about this since I was around 9 years old or so (don't expect me to go away anytime soon, though). The thing is, just because someone is 'out of their mind' enough to think about suicide does not mean they should be coddled like a child and told that they now cannot make an informed decision about the matter. In fact, the very fact that someone has thought about suicide, even if they have a mental illness, to some extent justifies the act of suicide! What I mean by this, is that anyone with such a degree of ennui is obviously suffering to a large extent - large enough in many cases, that it would actually warrant the act itself.


    The other complaint that is shouted almost at verbatim is that mental illness is 'curable', while terminal illnesses are not. The problem with saying this is, treatment isn't as simple as just a course of antibiotics, or an antitoxin in the bloodstream - it's a long, gruelling process that eventually culminates in a lot of lost years, a lot of lasting scars, and the pain of knowing too much - of knowing what the world is really like. Yes, you can make the choice to stick it out. But at the same time, one could quite easily think that the wait isn't worth it. A large, unparalleled amount of suffering for a slightly content few decades? Should we make people suffer for that?


    But I know that there probably are a lot of people who might change their minds about wanting to die, so I am definitely in favour of waiting periods, counselling classes, etc. for people who want assisted suicide. But I am most certainly not in favour of any long-term suffering.

7 comments:

  1. I agree that a person has the right to die. I am one who believes in exit houses. Houses set up for suicide... I believe this life is not to be dictated by outside influences. It is a personal experience.. Suicide is a freedom left for those of integrity. Those of honer and respect... An Honorable person living in a dishonorable land is a never ending hardship...

    Knowing to much is a very difficult thing.. This creates aloneness..

    Disrespect is rampant... When one dies and no one cares because they did not care when someone is alive is a disrespectable thing.. It is a hardship.

    I believe that if one cannot sustain the ability to find food or clothing or shelter on there own, that one cannot establish honorable relationships based on respect, that one cannot or does not have the right to protect themselves at all cost from those that would intrude upon there existence, one has the right to die... An honorable man would choose death....
    Suicide is not a childish thing, its an act of war,. Its the establishment of the existence of a greater war.. That defeat may be better then life.. That life is not being.. Life is of another nature.. It is a gift when one will be alive and show presence. It is a gift that can be taken back from the giver. If this world does not want the gift of life. Cannot except a purity, would rather be a corruption, Why would the honorable man stay... Makes no sense..

    Suicide is the option for the honerable. It is sad, it is a sorrow, it is the way of things...

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  2. I completely understand and agree with what you said here. I could identify exactly with the unbearable suffering you describe and I believe we who suffer in this way should indeed have the right to choose a swift, painless and dignified death if such is our avowed desire, withou having to resort to crude and violent methods that carry the risk of mutilation and severe physical damage, that can leave us even in greater pain than before.

    It is incredibly cruel, self-righteous, and patronizing to insist that we do not know what we want and that our suffering is somehow trivial compared to some kinds of physical suffering. I can only hope that society evolves enough to recognize our right to our own choices. In the USA, at least, this does not seem likely. We tend to be so self-righteous here. taru_dutt@hotmail.com

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  3. I am struggling with this very thing. I have lived with mental illness for almost 40 years. I want to go, but I am terrified of a botched suicide. Also, I don't want the terror of staring down a shotgun all by myself...or leaping in front of a train. I want to be with friends and family.

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  4. I had not seen this post before, but it is excellent. Many people act like severe depression and mental illness are somehow not as serious or as real as a physical illness. I think that mental suffering is just as real as physical suffering. A severely depressed person does not have much quality and life, and forcing them to suffer through a life when they really want to die is just cruel.

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  5. I completely disagree with thebelief that mental illness is definitely "treatable". There is absolutely NO scientific evidence this is true. The whole idea of a chemical imbalance is completely unproven and even disproven by some studies. That idea was SOLD to us by marketing people trying to sell drugs for the drug industry. Honestly, don't you think is drugs actually relieved the pain of mental illness people would want to take their meds? They would take them religiously like a cigarette fiend regardless of how devistating many of them are to the human body causing diabetes and weight gain and hypertension. The really horrid part of buying into this chemical imbalance marketing is that it gives psychologists a pass on actually getting to the bottom of a problem and helping someone resolve and rise above it. I am tired of the who, e mental health industry making all these claims that they can so.ve al, kinds of problems when their track record is awful. When they are ineffective they blame the patient. The patient, in all their agony, would do anything to feel better. The reason most mental health patients don't follow their doctor's plan is it is making them worse. That works great for the mental health worker, because the worse you get the more care you need and the more money they can collect from you to make their house payments and take their spouse out to dinner and go to S. Africa this year. With any luck, their patient will become completely dependant on and they can diagnose more and more issues to treat creating an endless stream of income. The whole field appears to be a scam to me.

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    1. God this is so right. As an "outpatient" who has been in "treatment" for what is only now being suspected as Bipolar Disorder, my medication only really seems to work by accident, and when that happens - well, first of all it doesn't happen well (weight gain, constant stomach pain, etc.) and second of all they stop working (tachyphylaxis) which my psychiatrist refuses to believe until I threaten to attempt suicide.

      Why can't mental health "awareness" instead be focused on cures? Could write a blog post about this as I'm tempted to get back into blogging. Probably won't for a while though (or ever) due to self-hate, no effort, concentration problems etc. you have heard it all before.

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  6. I want to die. Mental illness sucks. There is no cure. Please just let me go to sleep and not wake up.

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