to think that belgian voluntary enthanasia is murder

(80 Posts)
ReallyTired Thu 03-Oct-13 09:29:53

When you have someone who is terminally ill and in extreme pain then I think there is a case for enthanasia. However I think there is a fine line between helping someone to have a dignified death and helping someone with possilby treatable depression to commit suicide.

This poor transexual was allowed enthanasia because of a botched sex change operation. I feel that he/she should have had treatment for depression/ councelling rather than being helped to commit suicide. I imagine that the fact that Nathan Verhelst was rejected by his parents for being born a girl had caused him untold pychological issues.

Prehaps Nathan Verhelst was poorly supported through his sex change operation and its tragic that he never found happiness. I hope that he rests in peace and I feel its sad that he was not helped to find peace in this world.

ReallyTired Thu 03-Oct-13 09:30:18
Feminine Thu 03-Oct-13 09:31:05

I agree with you.

Such a waste of life (in this case)

FreudiansSlipper Thu 03-Oct-13 09:33:55

do you not think he has been treated for depression. he may have been poorly supported but some people never move on from depression it is not always curable and the self loathing that he has felt since a child is something he felt he did not want to live with any more

why is physical pain a reason to have that choice given to you but psychological pain is not

SilverApples Thu 03-Oct-13 09:36:55

I think psychological pain is as real and debilitating as physical pain for some people, and that assisted suicide is preferable to a botched and agonising attempt by someone who made that choice.
Sometimes you have st step back and let people have the autonomy to say 'Enough'

Latara Thu 03-Oct-13 09:37:00

I agree a total waste of life.

Also i'm against euthanasia in principle because it's an 'easy' option - money should be spent on more carers, better psychological help for people and good end of life care.

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 09:38:40

no I do not think it was murder i think it is tragic he felt he had to do this he was in agony and saw no way out sometimes people can not be cured, I also think people who are physically ill and do this must be in phsycological pain too and feel they can't go on,

Feminine Thu 03-Oct-13 09:39:30

I think that when you have a lot of life to live, its a massive shame. This man was still young.

I know a great deal about mental health issues... and still wish he could have been able to carry on.

FreudiansSlipper Thu 03-Oct-13 09:40:07

some people can have the best and all the psychological help there is and it is still not enough as they are very unwell

for most people thankfully that is not the case

expatinscotland Thu 03-Oct-13 09:40:47

It's his life, maybe death was peace to him. It's not for me to judge when an adult makes a decision about their body and life.

AngelsLieToKeepControl Thu 03-Oct-13 09:40:56

I don't think its murder.

I do think he would more than likely have committed suicide had this not been an option.

He clearly felt he was suffering a terminal condition, the doctors agreed. Having read a small amount about his life, and a shocking quote from his Mother today I can see why he chose this path tbh.

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 09:43:51

I think what freudian just said is important to remember that not everybody with issues like this man will do this, they can carry on , It is so very sad that people feel they have to do this I am not against it and I am glad it is an option for people. human suffering can be unbearable physical or phsycological (sp),

Depression is a real illness with real suffering.

If every attempt at treating him had been tried and failed then no, I don't think it's murder. Why should mental health patients go on suffering while people with longterm physical pain have the option of euthanasia?

MorrisZapp Thu 03-Oct-13 09:49:55

Of course it isn't murder. Do you honestly think he was given no support or help for his issues?

Anybody who thinks that physical pain is valid but mental pain isn't, obviously has no personal experience of mental ill health or disability.

FrightRider Thu 03-Oct-13 09:51:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ReallyTired Thu 03-Oct-13 09:54:00

I feel that enthanasia can be easier route for doctors and health care administrators than providing high quality pallitive care or pychological support.

44 years old seems so young for doctors to give up on treating someone for being suicidal.

NotYoMomma Thu 03-Oct-13 09:55:01

it isnt murder. would you rather he have took matters into his own hands? to have people find him totslly unprepared? or if he had decided to jump in front of a train

you wpuld be calling it tragic and sympathising

it is tragic and he could see no other way out so chose that path for himself

I hope he has peace

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 09:57:35

we are really only going on news reports and It can seem he just decided out of the blue to go this I am sure his health carers did care and treat him ,

expatinscotland Thu 03-Oct-13 10:00:40

'44 years old seems so young for doctors to give up on treating someone for being suicidal.'

It's not for them to decide, his life is his. Give up? So instead he dies alone?

People should have complete autonomy over their bodies, including how they chose to end them and their lives.

FrightRider Thu 03-Oct-13 10:02:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 10:03:28

People should have complete autonomy over their bodies, including how they chose to end them and their lives.

^ ^ that

why should doctors decide when the time is right this person decided enough and although it is tragic he had 44 years of pain and despair I think he made the right decision for him ,

It's not murder as there would have to be intent on behalf of the state.

I think it's far more an indictment of how little help is offered for psychological pain - he got 6 months therapy - I think that's crap

Severe depression can be massively debilitating but there's no way every therapy/drug therapy was tried

It's cheaper for the state to allow to die than treat them - that is a very unpalatable truth

They have death vans going round at the request of the elderly - this makes me uncomfortable and I do not think we engage with death, debilitating illness properly

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 10:05:29

if this person was a 44 year old transexual with motor neurone disease his decision would be accepted maybe not agreed with but accepted as he had no quality of life

FreckledLeopard Thu 03-Oct-13 10:06:22

If you don't believe in euthanasia, fine, don't choose it for yourself. But don't deny the right of someone else, in enormous physical or psychological pain, to choose it.

PresidentServalan Thu 03-Oct-13 10:06:58

If someone wants to die, for whatever reason, I think they should have the right to.

People should have complete autonomy over their bodies.

Gosh, that's a hard thing to get to grips with - I'm thinking of a young person I treated for 4 years - who tried to kill themselves 8 times.

Happy and healthy now but had severe depression from 17-21

Feminine Thu 03-Oct-13 10:07:46

I actually don't think it murder. I read the initial post incorrectly- sorry.

What I do think though is, that we normally hear of these cases happening in older people.

Those that have lived. 44 is very young to be done!

I understand totally about M/health issues, and yet I still feel he should have been saved.

ReallyTired Thu 03-Oct-13 10:07:54

"People should have complete autonomy over their bodies, including how they chose to end them and their lives."

Should hospitals stomach pump people who have taken an overdose of painkillers? Should someone who is attempting to jump off a bridge be sectioned under the mental health act to protect them? How do you decide that someone is of sound mind to decide to kill themselves?

FreudiansSlipper Thu 03-Oct-13 10:08:41

i had a case study (an old study i believe used often when teaching about how to deal with suicidal patients) to write about a women who wanted to die. both her children had died in a car crash she simply felt the pain she felt was not worth fighting. she did believe that she would be with them again but her overriding feeling was simply she did not want to live without them

now was she psychologically too ill to think straight, did her grief make her unable to make decision on her own life or was she able to make the decision herself (i personally believe she was)

we all found it very difficult to decide what was right but she was sure

anyway she did take her own life and had support of her family

Posted too soon.

Psychological pain can be treated if you throw enough money at it with proper intervention - in the vast majority of cases you can get better

But it costs a fortune for one to one intervention, there is no 24 hour care for severe pain - the mh hospitals and clinics cannot cope or offer the intervention needed

Only the person that is living the life can decide whether that life is unbearable.

Grennie Thu 03-Oct-13 10:14:00

I agree with the OP. This individual was physically capable of committing suicide. So why choose euthanasia? It may have been a last ditch cry for help.

And 6 months therapy is not enough help for someone severely depressed and/or with serious issues.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 03-Oct-13 10:16:26

YABU if people are in a fit mental state to know that they want to die, despite counselling etc, they should be allowed to do so. Our bodies, our choices.

How do we decide if they are mentally fit to make a choice? Well I wouldn't be able to make that call but I am fairly sure psychologists could work it out. There is a difference between a rash decision to jump off a bridge and a thought out decision to undergo euthanasia.

Grennie Thu 03-Oct-13 10:17:12

Why not just commit suicide then? I agree suicide should never be illegal.

ReallyTired Thu 03-Oct-13 10:17:43


I completely agree with you. I think the poor man need substantial intervention rather than being put to death.

"Only the person that is living the life can decide whether that life is unbearable."

Rather than killing the man, prehaps society needs to think how to make life bearable. Was there more that could be done to help Nathan Verhelst come to terms with his body and sexuality. Was there more we could have done to make Nathan feel worthy to be alive, even if he did not like his body.

Euthanasia should not be a cheap option or a replacement for good pychological or pallitive care.

I think the 6 months therapy relates to his decision to be euthanized, not to treating his depression. In order for eunthanasia to be carried out the HCP professionals have to ensure that it is not a rash decision and that the depression was not temporary.

It appears that his suffering had been all his life and at the age of 44 he decided that he didn't want to live that life anymore. He could have done it himself, but there is always the chance that it would not be successful, this method ensured that there would be an end, it would be without pain and it would be dignified.

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 10:23:52

That is what I think binky they do not just kill people they might need to go through therapy before hand, and they are now dead so we don't know the whole story

Grennie Thu 03-Oct-13 10:23:57

I agree with the UK Government's decision to be against euthanasia. I think for people who are so disabled they can't commit suicide, I can see euthanasia is merciful. But for anyone else, successful suicide, if you really want to do it, it is relatively easy.

Euthanasia is too open to coercing people into it, even if that is not the intention. The fact that it exists as a legally state sanctioned option, will itself I suspect, make some see it as an option, when perhaps they would never have committed suicide.

MidniteScribbler Thu 03-Oct-13 10:29:14

I agree a total waste of life.

It was a waste of a life when his parents decided that he wasn't good enough to be loved by them.

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 10:31:55

Psychological pain can be treated if you throw enough money at it with proper intervention - in the vast majority of cases you can get better

you can throw all the money you want at it you can not make a person accept the life they are living and the pain they are in imo

Mojavewonderer Thu 03-Oct-13 10:35:37

It's not murder. He was suffering just as much as someone who is in unbearable physical pain. It was his choice and his life and while it is always sad when someone who technically had a lot of life to live he didn't feel he did, he was the one suffering and it was his choice to make.

-in the vast majority of cases you can get better In the vast majority of cases I am sure that they do but maybe this man was not a member of the vast majority.

We do not know of his past medical history, we do not know of what medication or therapies to treat his depression he had received. We do not know anything other than what is printed in the papers, which is not a lot.

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 10:38:30

just because there is therapy to cure his pain doesn't mean he had to take it perhaps he was just not wanting to live anymore was he supposed to just keep on getting treatment and not know how he was going to be from one day to the next until he died naturally as an elderly person ?

Branleuse Thu 03-Oct-13 10:38:59

its noone elses business. Im sure this decision hadnt been taken lightly.


comingalongnicely Thu 03-Oct-13 10:39:54

Why not just commit suicide then? I agree suicide should never be illegal.

Because it's not likely to go well! Would you rather he had spend 5 minutes choking to death after using a badly tied noose? Or that he had jumped in front of a train and ruined someone else's life too?

With suicide there are always other people affected - the person that finds the body etc.

This way it is done in a painless, dignified manner rather than having to skulk off into the woods with some clothesline, or to die covered in vomit after taking pills & booze (like a relative of mine).

His life, his choice.

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 10:43:01

at least with euthanasia he was in control he knew it was the end and it was final and painless

harticus Thu 03-Oct-13 10:49:13

This story has caused me to reassess my position on state condoned euthanasia.
Very upsetting.
But I don't think it is murder. He would have killed himself anyway if he was feeling that suicidal. Just a shame that someone couldn't have intervened and helped.

ChestyCoffin Thu 03-Oct-13 10:51:27

Life is not compulsory for anyone.

I presume he had been deemed capable of making an informed decision.
Suicide is sometimes unsuccessful and unpleasant for all involved.
Why would he not choose a calm peaceful dignified death?

Regarding euthanasia and palliative care. It is not used as an alternative by HCPs.

How can you judge someone who knows they are going to die and the fear of the symptoms which are not always relievable with palliative care and the uncertainty of when and how, who choose to die a dignified life.

MissHC Thu 03-Oct-13 10:55:22

I'm from Belgium (although moved to UK in 2007). My grandmother passed away after euthanasia. She was terminally ill with cancer, was in pain, would never get better (lots of tumors everywhere) and worst of all was completely losing her memory due to brain tumor.

A couple of things.

First of all, the decision to do euthanasia is NOT taken lightly in Belgium. 2 doctors need to agree to it, and a decision is only made after extensive discussion.

Secondly, I think for psychological pain only the person themselves can decide when it's been enough. I am sure that person had had extensive treatment and counselling from psychiatrists - mental health provision is IMO much better there than it is in the UK (my mum is a psychologist). It's easy to get appointments and care is in general of very high quality. I doubt that he would have ever been able to get better - they certainly wouldn't have agreed to euthanasia if that was the case.

Personally I think it's fantastic that someone can be helped to not be in pain anymore. As some of you say - he should have committed suicide - surely euthanasia is a much more humane option?

FWIW this is not a typical case of euthanasia in Belgium - usually it's used for people like my grandmother with a terminal state of cancer. Therefore I am adamant that was not a decision made lightly and that it was agreed that it really was the only way to stop this person being in so much pain.

ScoobyWho Thu 03-Oct-13 11:06:27

My husband is a Police Officer (999 response), who in the early hours of this morning was the first attender at a suicide scene. The individual had hanged themselves. Due to the fact that he's a 999er, he has attended quite a few suicides - drowning, jumping off bridges but mainly hanging.

Most are under 60, I think anyone who thinks suicide is a preferable option to euthanasia is exceptionally naive and I'm being kind with my choice of words. My husband cuts the body down, checks for signs of life with or while waiting on paramedics, he then speaks to/has to inform family members most of whom are completely unaware.

I welcome any kind of legislation that relieves this horrible, sad, lonely way to die.

I also feel that denying the right to end your own life because its deemed that your psychological feelings/illlness aren't as serious as a physical illness is a dangerous concept.

kali110 Thu 03-Oct-13 11:10:49

Yabu its not murder.
Depression can be as painfull and debilitating as a terminal illness such as cancer.
Its sad this guy felt there was no way out, but if there was no way to fix the botch up then no wonder he thought this was the only way out.feel so bad.

I think this is a little more disturbing
"Voluntary euthanasia for those over 18 is relatively uncontroversial in Belgium. Parliament is now considering expanding the law to under 18s as well."
"Patients must be capable of deciding for themselves."

How can anyone of this age know enough to be capable of a decision like this ?

ReallyTired Thu 03-Oct-13 12:04:47

"Voluntary euthanasia for those over 18 is relatively uncontroversial in Belgium. Parliament is now considering expanding the law to under 18s as well."
"Patients must be capable of deciding for themselves."

How can anyone of this age know enough to be capable of a decision like this ?

Exactly! The parents will decide and if the children are in care then the state will decide. I fear that severely disabled children will be enthanised.

PresidentServalan Thu 03-Oct-13 12:26:36

I think that the fact you can opt for assisted suicide in some countries is a mercy - no matter how much money you throw at it, you cannot stop people thinking that they cannot live their lives any longer for whatever reason.

PeppiNephrine Thu 03-Oct-13 12:31:51

Should he have shot himself or poisoned himself in a lonely hotel room or jumped off a bridge just to make YOU feel more comfortable?
Its some height of arrogance to insist people keep living a life they can't stand just so your cosy view of things isn't disturbed.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 14:13:42

YANBU but this is the danger of legalised euthanasia. It starts with those who are terminally ill, develops to include those who are suicidal and the risk is that it doesn't stop there.

thebody Thu 03-Oct-13 14:21:23

depression isn't just being a bit sad.

severe depression is as crippling as widespread cancer.

poor man. I hope he is at peace now.

ReallyTired Thu 03-Oct-13 14:58:50

"depression isn't just being a bit sad.

severe depression is as crippling as widespread cancer"

Depression attacks the soul in a way that no other condition does. The person loses the ablity to think. This is why people with severe depression who refuse help are sectioned, but people with cancer are allowed to refuse treatment.

Surely both conditions should be treated rather than killing the victim. Depression is treatable and the symptoms of terminal cancer can be relieved in a lot of cases with strong pain killers like heroin or cancer.

I think the difference between terminal cancer is that death is inniment anyway. The person 's life is not being significantly shortened.

ScoobyWho Thu 03-Oct-13 15:03:09

You're not killing the victim, you're allowing them to make a choice to end their own life. You mightn't believe it's the right choice but to be fair thats not really the issue.

Madeleine10 Thu 03-Oct-13 15:49:16

"Voluntary euthanasia for those over 18 is relatively uncontroversial in Belgium. Parliament is now considering expanding the law to under 18s as well."

This is seriously frightening, I agree HaveToWearHeeals.
This is exactly the sort of mission creep that so many people against euthanasia fear, and that so many supporters have said could never happen for X,Y,Z reasons - and yet here it is under consideration in Belgium.

The fact that it could apply minors is dreadful, but it is a genuine concern for all vulnerable groups.

I'm sympathetic, however, to the principle of end of life/terminal illness assistance.

thoroughlymodernmillie Thu 03-Oct-13 16:46:50

To have a terminal illness, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. No cure. I don't know much about mental illness to be honest but are we saying that for some there is no cure and they should be allowed to choose to die.
A close family member committed suicide a couple of years ago. All I can think is that they must have been in the depths of despair. However it was a permanent solution for a temporary problem which they may have recovered from.

expatinscotland Thu 03-Oct-13 17:08:58

Depression is treatable and the symptoms of terminal cancer can be relieved in a lot of cases with strong pain killers like heroin or cancer.

Sometimes it most certainly is not and often enough, those who present with depression have also another mental illness for which there really is no treatment.

Similarly, it is BS that all those with terminal cancer can die pain free. I've known and heard of those who did not. There was nothing that could alleviate their pain and tbh, why on Earth should they be subjected to your idea of what is quality of life? It is their body and their life.

They should be allowed to end that with dignity and loved one around, not jumping off a bridge like Tony Scott.

samu2 Thu 03-Oct-13 17:09:38

Actually, depression isn't always treatable ReallyTired

My husband has bi-polar, he is pretty much always depressed. All the meds and therapy in the world hasn't cured him or even controlled it enough for him to lead a 'normal' life. And he has been trying for 18 years.

If someone doesn't want to live their life that way then I don't blame them, I also don't blame them for wanting to do it a more dignified manner and I think everyone should have that right to do so.

expatinscotland Thu 03-Oct-13 17:10:45

'are we saying that for some there is no cure and they should be allowed to choose to die.'

There is no cure for many mental illness. And many do in fact chose suicide.

expatinscotland Thu 03-Oct-13 17:12:38

Love this romantic ideal that people who are terminally ill with cancer all die swiftly, unconscious, pain-free. That is a load of crap. I know people whose loved one, whose children have woken suddenly on heavy painkillers with wild fear in their eyes, unable to speak and then die.

SecretWitch Thu 03-Oct-13 17:16:23

If my physical or emotional pain were so great that I wished to die, I would want to go to a country that allows me to do so with dignity and compassion.

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 17:23:28

So would I secretwitch

expatinscotland Thu 03-Oct-13 17:25:37

Same here, Secret. My decision, no more comfortable with my right to die being dictated than I am with reproductive rights being dictated.

mrsjay Thu 03-Oct-13 17:25:51

people are becoming a little hysterical nobody is going to kill disabled child, and you can withold treatment now from a severely ill/disabled child so it can go on without any legislation they just let nature take its course,

stringornothing Thu 03-Oct-13 17:34:12

Many many people who are prevented from committing suicide do recover and go on to be grateful for being saved though. Presumably most of them thought there was no hope at the time. I'm very wary of the idea that their decisions should be respected.

But assuming that this tragic person's condition was incurable, which is the official medical stance, should the parents be tried for manslaughter?

stringornothing Thu 03-Oct-13 17:45:53

This is a really fascinating article which explains why I'm very wary of official sanction of suicide for depression. But NB that it does not argue that suicide is never a legitimate response, only that the bar should be set very high.

cavell Thu 03-Oct-13 18:42:01

I'm glad for this man that he was able to end his life at a time of his choosing and in a peaceful, pain-free manner.

Of course it would be better that no-one was ever in a position where death seemed the preferable option to a continued life of suffering - whether psychological or physical. But, sadly, people do find themselves in such positions. And there isn't always a solution or an answer to bring an end to their suffering.

quoteunquote Thu 03-Oct-13 18:56:25

You only get one life, what you do with it is entirely up to you, as long as you do no harm to anyone or anything it is nobody business what you actually do.

The only shameful thing in this is our failure as the human race not to meet everyones needs.

You cannot take decisions from people, that would be stealing, they belong to each individual, every person is entitled to their choices.

CaptainPoop Thu 03-Oct-13 19:36:02

As someone who has attempted suicide 8 times (probably only 3 were serious, the other times i didn't want to die, I just didn't know how else to make the pain stop) using multiple methods I can say to all the posters who believe it is a preferable alternative to euthanasia, that it is the most painful, undignified and traumatic experience.

People will never see euthanasia as an option if they are not willing, begging, to die to begin with. It's not an 'easy' option, EVER. Only the most desperate of souls look to death to ease their suffering.

Loopytiles Thu 03-Oct-13 19:59:06

yabvu to suggest that doctors and nurses would find euthanasia easier than caring for people until "natural" death.

And "slippery slope" / could make murder easier arguments are often used by people against any euthanasia to try to disuade people on the fence. Scaremongering. Checks can be put in place.

Even good palliative care (not always available) can't always make people comfortable. Motor neurone disease, for example.

Loopytiles Thu 03-Oct-13 20:03:24

People with terrible degenerative conditions have the choice to commit suicide or travel somewhere like switzerland before they want to die,while they can still physically do this, depriving them of time; to ask someone to help them die (potentially risking prosecution and a huge emotional burden); or go through whatever their condition has in store.

The option of a dignified death when they choose would be much better.

expatinscotland Fri 04-Oct-13 00:03:37

I lost my daughter to 'natural causes', pneumonia from cancer treatment. It was horrible. Her lungs failed after weeks of battling two infections and leaked the air they were unable to exchange, whilst she was on a vent. The poor doctor was so, so kind. We asked what would happen if the vent were not turned off. He told us the truth, and I've learned from other doctor friends that it was indeed the truth. Those patients wake up, no matter how heavily sedated, as the build up of air literally crushes them to death from the inside and finally their hearts cease to beat due to pressure. And he said, very softly, 'It haunts me.' We had no wish to visit that on her nor that man, who was very kind, nor anyone else. We switched her off. Other people chose differently, that is their choice.

We have since come to know countless other bereaved parents whose children died of other natural causes and the stories I can tell you would make a statue keen with grief.

Despite all the best palliative care, it is not drifting off to sleep much of the time. The human body clings and fights for life.

Death is not pretty or romantic. Changes happen very quickly to the body.

As an adult, I would seek to avoid this if possible, and I resent others dictating what they think it best for me because it doesn't sit well with their comfort zone and their parameters.

I do not judge others who opt differently but that is just it, it should be a choice, and I do resent others who think I, or anyone else, should not have that option, to die with as much dignity as possible, with loved ones who chose to be there, and treat me and those people like criminals.

MorrisZapp Fri 04-Oct-13 09:43:43

Oh expat. No words really. Hugs if you want them.

LookingThroughTheFog Fri 04-Oct-13 09:54:40

Once again, I'm left with the unsettling feeling that some people out there think that suicidal people simply aren't working hard enough at being well.

Most of us work bloody hard every single sodding day, and there's often no end in sight. Yet you're still told that suicides are selfish, that they should only choose certain ways, that they only need X, Y or Z.

I'm actually fine at the moment. I'm doing relatively well. I'm happy for my children's sake that they still have a mum around, but I'm not happy for me specifically. I don't think 'thank God I didn't end it! Life is lovely now!' I'm hanging on for them, and life is currently manageable but no more than that. I'm very well aware that this is not likely to be a permanent situation. I'm aware that there is more pain to come, and more work to do. And whatever happens, there will be people sitting in judgement that I'm not working hard enough.

Yes I do think 'I'd like to be around for my children's weddings.' I also know that the reality is that this might not happen.

LookingThroughTheFog Fri 04-Oct-13 09:54:58

And so many sympathies to you, Expat.

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