quality of death

I'm sure everyone by now is tired of the old argument that family pets get the option of a more humane death than do humans, however true it remains. While the recent death of Cocoa, a little brushtail possum I'd had contact with for the last two years wasn't easy, it was made infinitely less difficult that I was able to help ensure that her suffering wasn't prolonged, and that I was able to be there to say good-bye.

The difficult task is to explain that depression does not necessarily indicate an inability to accurately assess one's life and one's potential to achieve a satisfactory quality of life. Also, that a person has a right to decide that the treatment options available are not right - or realistic - for them personally.

It is incredibly depressing if the only way you can prove that it's that bad is if you kill yourself - if no one believes you suffer until you actually manage to kill yourself.

To address the idea that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem: things did not get better for me after high school. I am now 41 years old. The treatment options open to me are not right for me or realistic considering the complexity of my particular problems, and what I would wish would be the chance to die with some dignity. Over the years, I continue to lose more and more, and I become more afraid that as the years go by I will become more and more of a burden.

If the option was available to me to end my life with assistance, I would feel immense relief and gratitude. This is not a whim. Year after year, I have been consistent in what I have expressed to those closest to me. People can judge my character as weak and whiny, and they may be correct, but my assessment is that I will never be able to participate in life, contribute/give back, or support myself. It is very likely that I will eventually need government assistance, that I will be institutionalized, or that I will be homeless. None of those options appeal to me, and all I'm saying is that I know myself (and my thought and behaviour patterns) well enough to project what the future holds for me if I do not manage to kill myself soon. I would like to take responsibility for my life in the only way left for me, and I would like to finally have peace from the mental anguish I suffer every day.

Each day is a trial of endurance for me. I can intellectually appreciate what is good in my life and what is good in the world, but I myself do not experience pleasure in existence. This has been my reality for the greater part of my life. When you have something to hope for in life, when you have a system of belief or support, sometimes you can handle incredible pain and hardship, or at least make the effort, but I lack all of these things. What I hope for is a good death.

I greatly admire the effort, commitment, courage and compassion demonstrated by Dr Philip Nitschke. I know that he focuses his energy on euthanasia for the seriously physically ill or elderly, and I can definitely understand why euthanasia for those segments of the population are a priority, and why it would be easier to help people understand the need for end of life options for people in those positions. I would not want to harm his chances to make advancements or confuse or taint the issue by demanding the same considerations for myself, as much as I would wish it could be possible for me to have similar end of life choices.

It is difficult for me, but I understand why I would be placed in the category of irrational or suffering from psychiatric illness, and therefore not eligible for the same consideration. I would like my voice to be heard regardless.

A big issue that Dr Nitschke seems to understand is quality of life and personal dignity, about a person's right to decide what quality of life is acceptable, and a person's right to end their life if they feel they can no longer be the person they feel they are at a core level. I have never been able to live my life with dignity in all my adult years, or to feel that I was able to be the person I thought I was at a core level.

When I see elderly people or people who have undergone long illnesses dying in movies, or read about it in books, there is a kind of truth I identify with, and I relate to the exhaustion, or the feeling of peace or acceptance, the readiness to let go. Is there some way that people could ever imagine that in a shorter life a person could have gone through similar steps much more quickly, or in a way that approximates a similar experience?

I'm not a complete idiot. I don't think that any time soon people like me are going to be given any assistance to choose to die with dignity. Because there are treatment options available, even though these options do not seem right for me, personally, I will have to live out my life, or try to find the strength to kill myself in a way that leaves a mess and possibly trauma for the person/s finding me. People will say I should have sought treatment - without knowing or understanding the complexity of my personal history, my personal reality, without knowing for how long I have expressed that I have gone as far as I can in this life, and I want to be allowed to leave.


From The Peaceful Pill Handbook - Australia Edition

by Dr Philip Nitschke and Dr Fiona Stewart:

A Word of Caution:

This book is intended for seriously ill and suffering people for whom there is little hope that their quality of life will ever recover to a level that is satisfactory to them.

This book is not intended for those who are young or irrational or for people who are suffering from pychiatric [sic] illness or depression.

...Seriously ill people need end of life options. It is a basic human right to live and die with one's dignity in tact...