Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Depressed Belgian woman dies by euthanasia.

Professor Tom Mortier
The following article was written by Tom Mortier and published February 4, 2013 on Mercator.net under the title: How my mother died.
A mentally-ill Belgian woman sought euthanasia to escape her problems. The doctors told her, sure, why not?
How my mother died

Since 2002 a law was passed in Belgium that allowed people to be euthanised when they were suffering intractable and unbearable pain. Today euthanasia is more often granted to people suffering from mental illnesses like chronic depression, schizophrenia, chronic anorexia nervosa and borderline personality disorder, etc.

The law requires that a patient’s free decision has to be established before medical doctors can give the lethal injections.

My mother suffered from chronic depression. Two years ago she broke off all contact with me. In April 2012 she was euthanased at the hospital of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (the Free University of Brussels).

I was not involved in the decision-making process and the doctor who gave her the injection never contacted me.

Since then, my life has changed considerably. Up until now, I am still trying to understand how it is possible for euthanasia to be performed on physically healthy people without even contacting their children. The spokesman of the university hospital told me that everything happened according to my mother’s “free choice”. After my mother’s death, I talked to the doctor who gave her the injection and he told me that he was “absolutely certain” my mother didn’t want to live anymore.

The death of my mother has triggered a lot of questions. How is it possible that people can be euthanised in Belgium without close family or friends being contacted? Why does my country give medical doctors the exclusive power to decide over life and death? How do we judge what “unbearable suffering” is? What are the criteria to decide what “unbearable suffering” is? Can we rely on such a judgment for a mentally ill person?

After all, can a mentally ill person make a “free choice”? Why didn’t the doctors try to arrange a meeting between our mother and her children? How can a medical doctor be “absolutely certain” that his/her patient doesn’t want to live anymore? Why can’t we bear to see people suffering?

Some doctors at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel believe that euthanasia should be offered to anyone who wishes to end his/her life because of unbearable and meaningless suffering. All objections and restraints from the community are regarded as immoral and unjustifiable. These doctors are nowadays even discussing euthanasia for people suffering from autism and youngsters who are suicidal.

What scares me is that these doctors also seem to be controlling the Belgium media. Is this the society we want to evolve to? Are we going to control suicides in the nearby future by putting people out of their misery before they can do it themselves -- instead of investing in mental health and palliative care?

I believe that the appeal to “free choice” is becoming a dogma of convenience. We are rapidly changing into a society of absolute loneliness where we don’t want to take care of each other any more. And when we suffer, we ask our doctors to kill us, breaking fundamental biological and human laws. However, by doing this, we create new and insoluble problems.

Therefore, we really should rethink what we believe in. 

Is it life or is it death?

Tom Mortier PhD lectures in chemistry at Leuven University College. This article was written with the assistance of Dr Steven Bieseman and Professor Emeritus Herman De Dijn. It was originally published in the Belgian medical journal Artsenkrant.

6 comments:

Ann said...

Thank you for speaking out, the Doctors should not have such wide powers and I fear for our future. Life is precious and we all should respect it.

Clare said...

Speaking as someone who has suffered from chronic depression for years, this is dangerous. A suicidally depressed person cannot be considered capable of making such an important decision. Depression is a form of madness which makes its victim believe that happiness is impossible, that death is the only way to escape from pain. To deny someone in that condition the possibility of future sanity and enjoyment of life is the height of cruelty.

Anonymous said...

As someone who suffers major depression, it frustrates me that others consider physical pain (cancer etc) a justification for euthanasia, but not mental pain. I recently had a bimalleolar fracture (tib and fib ankle fracture) which was barely felt compared to the everyday pain that depression causes.
4 years ago I made the mistake of indicating suicidal intentions to someone who forwarded that to the police who stopped me. With hindsight, my ability to assess how that person would react was impacted by the severity of the depression at the time (I should not have said anything). Since then I have received the best treatment available but every day is still painful. I have not spent a day grateful that I am still here. It is only because of family’s desire for me to not leave that I am still here. I wish it would be accepted that depression often cannot be fixed with medication or other therapy and is at least as painful as other terminal illnesses.
I agree that for a short period at the time, 4 years ago, I may not have been capable of making a well reasoned request for assisted suicide. However, I am a well paid, supposedly intelligent and competent professional and resent the intimation that after many years of consistent pain I can’t make an informed decision regarding the potential for me to live a worthwhile life. Mental pain can be at least as severe as physical pain and society needs to accept this. It would make it much easier for me to do the best thing for me.

Anonymous said...

Living in America and maybe somewhat sheltered from some of these issues abroad I was appalled to hear that doctors would even consider aiding in the death of an individual as a viable option. I thought that doctors were sworn to try and save lives. Having suffered from clinical depression for over 30 years and trying to commit suicide several times, I understand the pain that these people are talking about. But I am very glad that I was unsuccessful! I know now that there is relief and deliverence from this horribly painful condition. I was put on all different kinds of medications which usually made the depression worse. When I was finally put on Effexor my path back to normalness began. Up until this point I could not make a rational decision about much of anything because the pain of wanting to die was so strong that it colored every decision. I was convinced that my husband and 4 beautiful daughters would be so much better off without me than to have me here and be such a mess. My healing had nothing to do with a changed diet or anything like that. My deliverance came when I met the God of the universe, the God of the Holy Bible, face to face and He told me "I love you so much I died for you." Wow, who on planet earth would die for me? I am sure there would not even be a handful of volunteers. The medication allowed me to think more clearly about everything even my thoughts about the God who said "I love you". As I began my journey with Him and learning more about Him and who He is and who I was in Him I was able to go off all medication. I didn't have to wean myself off either. I was totally delivered! I have been depression free for over 6 years now. It feels so good to have such a great outlook on life. There is only one way to truly be set free from depression and it isn't suicide, which leaves the family devastated, but to be totally set free is to give your life to the only who can fix you because He is your creator. And that is God. Not Allah, Buddah, or any other imitation. There is but one true God of this Universe and His name is "EL", in the Hebrew language. He is truly El Shaddai which simply means God Almighty. That is exactly what He is, MIGHTY! Only El Shaddai can deliver us from depression or any other mental disorder. If you truly want to be delivered please feel free to contact me via my email: addictedtoJesus@yahoo.com.

Jeffrey Gifford said...

I have went through 2-Major Depressive episodes plus conintuing Anxiety. I am 50 years old, have seen enough and would like to know that the US Government would Euthanize me in dignigty rather than trying do it myself! When that time domes.

Alex Schadenberg said...

Dear Jeffrey:

The government should not legalize the killing of depressed people who will ask for euthanasia or assisted suicide at their lowest point.