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Euthanasia for Mental Illness ** upsetting content**

(106 Posts)
Thisnamechanger Fri 10-Aug-18 11:00:58

Has there been a thread about Aurelia Brouwers yet? I've just read the story on the BBC news website and it's deeply, deeply shocking and unbelievably sad. I just can't get my head around it.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-45117163

flamingofridays Fri 10-Aug-18 11:05:15

yikes.

I am pro being able to make that decision, if you have a terminal illness or similar, but I am not sure how I feel about this in regards to mental health at all.

It is unbelievably sad whatever way you look at it.

Thisnamechanger Fri 10-Aug-18 11:06:36

I can't remember when I last read a news article that chilled me so much.

SporkInTheToaster Fri 10-Aug-18 11:38:48

Personally, I’m troubled by the ethical issues surrounding assisted dying though I can see both sides of the coin.

However, I don’t see how, if you agree with it (in principle) for certain physical conditions, you could be opposed to it for similarly extreme psychiatric conditions too. It would be wonderful to think that everyone can be treated or rehabilitated back to health and wellbeing but how realistic is that and how long do the people living it have to plough on, in hellish circumstances, until enough is enough?

It’s hard because in cases of terminal illness, there is a defined ‘end’ so assisted dying seems more clear cut. In cases like this or cases where there’s not a ‘terminal’ factor (I’m thinking things like like quadriplegia/severe spinal cord injury) the person could go on for years, have a normal life expectancy even. What that person’s quality of life might be, is anyone’s guess and could change over the years. It’s so deeply complex as a topic.

73kittycat73 Fri 10-Aug-18 11:46:40

I'm surprised you find it so shocking. As someone who has had mental health problems from a very young age, I could totally understand Aurelia's decision. Sometimes your quality of life is just not there. Sometimes it can seem bleak and you can seem to have no respite.
She was suffering anguish, and mental pain can be equal to, or greater than, physical pain.
She didn't rush into the decision. I think it's important that people with long term mental health problems have as much say in their treatment as people with physical problems.
I'm not saying suicide it the answer, or to rush in with euthanasia as the only option. Just that, if all else has failed time and time again, surely that person should have the same personal choice/option too?

73kittycat73 Fri 10-Aug-18 11:48:27

Is the answer.

flamingofridays Fri 10-Aug-18 11:56:34

I don’t see how, if you agree with it (in principle) for certain physical conditions, you could be opposed to it for similarly extreme psychiatric conditions too

I think, for me, that its the fact that she has mental health issues, and she and the doctors are saying this is the only option. I mean, that may be true, and they may have exhausted all the drugs/therapies/whatever else that are available.

I am just stuck on the fact that she is allowed to make such a decision, whilst being in that mental state. I am not sure I feel comfortable with the fact that someone who is obviously very troubled is "allowed" to make that decision.

However, when I write that I question myself and say well she obviously knows what she wants, she is not so troubled that she cannot think logically so why should she not.

I don't know, I am on the fence.

The brain is a complicated thing, and depression and mental health issues, to me, seem less "definite" (cant think of a good word) than for example terminal cancer, or another condition which is slowly but surely killing you.

however, I am aware of how naïve that statement is.

Yoksha Fri 10-Aug-18 12:25:33

This has added a new dimension as to how I feel. I'm just getting my head around terminal illnesses and choice. I agree that as a society we need to debate this whole subject. I don't disagree in spirit. It should be addressed, and it shouldn't just be left up to the experts. The Dutch seem to be acceptable. And they've always got informed choice as an individual. Who determines mental capacity as an individual is something else.

Flamingo... I don't think your statement is naive. Sometimes the best solutions/ideas come from putting something out there, addressing it & as a 'collective' dismissing it or move forward . I find it hard equating terminal illness with severe mental illness.

I know first hand of a lifelong best friend who recently discovered their elderly relative who was a victim of collusion between the relative's sibling, lawyer, a doctor and office staff to rid her of her assets & life savings. It's been a long road. It's taken over their lives. Truly eye-watering.

Mn has begun my education to rationalise this subject. So sad. But thank you OP for highlighting this.

usernamealreadytaken Fri 10-Aug-18 13:27:04

I have very mixed feelings about it, but do accept it for terminal illness.

she is allowed to make such a decision, whilst being in that mental state

For me, this stands out; maybe for her "being in that mental state" is her default state, the way her life is, in which case her decision is far more easy to understand. I have suffered (relatively) brief spells of depression, but luckily have responded well to medication and am now able to recognise the signs and have strategies to help myself. If I had to face living the majority of the rest of my life in a depressed state with little or no respite, then I can absolutely see that ending my life would seem like the best way to deal with it. Surely a proper medical end in that situation would be so much better than a possibly bodged suicide? Time to say goodbye to those you love; your death would be hard on them however it happened, but I do feel that a safe proper and dignified death would be better than jumping in front of a train and giving hundreds of people the worst day of their lives too.

Thisnamechanger Fri 10-Aug-18 14:07:09

I'm surprised you find it so shocking

I don't mean the fact she chose to die, although it's obvious unbelievably sad, I'm just astonished that it's legal. I would have thought it was so ethically thorny that it wouldn't be allowed.

chirpyburbycheapsheep Fri 10-Aug-18 15:01:09

The worrying thing is is that this would be an alternative to the extensive support that those with severe mental health issues need. We know that cuts to mental health services have already put people suffering in a very vulnerable situation where the thought of euthanasia might seem preferable to the isolation and misery of their lives. What if we lived in a society that provided those with severe mental health problems what they need?

I myself have looked into euthanasia as a way out and come to peace with the idea that I will most likely commit suicide in the end one way or another. I wonder if I had the support I actually needed (and I actually have 3 hours therapy a week which is pretty good going on the NHS) whether the thought of suicide as a release would be diminished or actually extinguished completely.

As for the difference between mental and physical suffering...well, I had kidney stones once. I couldn't move or speak with the pain, thought perhaps I was dying. But if someone said to me that I could either have kidney stones every week or the major depression and PTSD which is a result of neglect and severe abuse in childhood then I would choose the kidney stones without a second thought. There is a level of mental suffering that is beyond the imagination of many people and I am glad that it is.

Scoopofchaff Fri 10-Aug-18 15:10:28

I think this is hugely worrying ethically; can someone be of sufficiently sound mind to make a decision such as this when suffering from a serious mental illness? Or is that viewpoint disrespectful to a sufferer as somehow less able to have advocacy over their own life?

chirpy I'm sorry you are suffering flowers
Whilst I totally totally agree with your viewpoint, particularly from UK perspective, I think the countries (in Europe) where euthanasia is allowed (Holland and Belgium for example) have, in general, excellent and extensive health care provision.

Passmethecrisps Fri 10-Aug-18 15:15:33

I read this story last night and just felt sad to my core. Strangely my husband mentioned it separately and said he had found it extremely distressing.

We have two little children and I noticed that her parents aren’t mentioned at all. I know she is an adult obviously but my thoughts turned to them and how you move on from this.

My feeling is that she was living in her own nightmare and there seemed to be no recovering. I feel she tried long and hard enough and her life was torture.

I am unsurprised that this happened in the Netherlands.

dangermouseisace Fri 10-Aug-18 15:38:49

I agree with voluntary euthanasia for terminal illness.

I don’t agree with it for mental illness though. I have a severe mental illness, and if voluntary euthanasia was available I’d feel I had to pursue it, so as to avoid burdening everyone/being a drain on services sad

NinjaLeprechaun Fri 10-Aug-18 15:43:23

I'm always a little bit surprised by how many people don't view mental illness as a potentially terminal illness. People die from it every day. (Not everybody, obviously, but not everybody who has cancer dies from that either and yet nobody has trouble understanding that as potentially terminal.) My opinion of assisted suicide is complicated, but in brutal honesty it's probably a better option than the unassisted variety.

HollowTalk Fri 10-Aug-18 15:44:17

She'd suffered from severe sexual abuse. It didn't mention her parents and there might have been a good reason for that.

ImAGoofyGoober Fri 10-Aug-18 15:46:42

I think she had every right to kill herself

Ticcinalong Fri 10-Aug-18 15:50:03

I found the Radio 4 show on this yesterday very saddening. The poor girl, her mother died in the time she was awaiting the euthanasia also. She seemed so troubled and yet so eloquent and I just imagine her life had been so filled with sadness. Very troubling on every level.

Thisnamechanger Fri 10-Aug-18 15:53:49

She mentioned her Dad in the video - she says she feels bad that her death will be hard on him.

The thing I noticed in the video if she mentioned things/places she loves, refers to things as beautiful and refers to her loved ones... it's so sad that she is able to feel some sense of love and beauty for some things but obviously it isn't enough to counteract the pain sad

flamingofridays Fri 10-Aug-18 16:46:34

People die from it every day

see, I understand this, but I don't see it as a terminal illness. At that time that person thought that their life had to end, but in difference circumstances, with treatment, therapy or drugs (which some people don't persue) they might not have felt like that. So to me, it doesn't always have to be terminal.

This woman and her doctors say she has exhausted all options available to her, but I would suggest that maybe other people who kill themselves because of mental health, maybe haven't done that or didn't feel like it would help, when in reality it might have

I am still very much in two minds about this.

flamingofridays Fri 10-Aug-18 16:48:59

I do believe its best to seek help for mental health issues under any circumstances, and we should be open and honest about it, however, I suppose this is classed as "help" but I am just not sure how I feel about it.

I would hate to think for example, if DS felt like that, that he would be able to just go and do this. However, its not any worse that it would be if he ended his life himself, I suppose. But the thought of professionals agreeing that it would be best if he were dead makes me go cold.

DS is only two, though so I am obviously thinking about this from a strange POV right now.

LadyDeadpool Fri 10-Aug-18 16:49:05

I'm sorry but unless you've lived with BPD I don't think you should be judging. It's an evil disease and causes so much damn pain every day, sufferers are far more likely to commit suicide to escape it.

If your existence brings you no pleasure then you should be allowed to escape it, Mental illness can cause just as much pain as a physical illness. Sometimes the idea of suicide is the only thing that can bring a bit of peace.

flamingofridays Fri 10-Aug-18 16:50:10

I don't think anybody is "judging" what this woman did, she did what she felt she had to do.

We are just discussing how we feel about this possibly becoming more common.

annandale Fri 10-Aug-18 17:03:38

A very painful story.

I know that like a pp, my Dh was barely bothered by physical pain, it was nothing to him compared to the mental anguish he felt on his bad days.

I was interested that the 'anti' psychiatrist felt that those who killed themselves were usually not those he expected. Well, yes, because you'd section or admit those you expect it from - it suggests an enormous amount of untreated pain. Also he seemed comfortable with saying that if she waited another eleven years she would probably feel better - that would make many of us despair tbh.

Suicide is so brutal, traumatic and messy that this 'clean' version seems better. But I agree that it is chilling - I'm not sure it is better to have this available. A few months before he died Dh and I both read Sweet Caress by William Boyd which presents a sanitised version of suicide. I have come to hate it. The choice to end a life is not clean and cannot be untraumatic.

chirpyburbycheapsheep Fri 10-Aug-18 17:04:41

*chirpy I'm sorry you are suffering
Whilst I totally totally agree with your viewpoint, particularly from UK perspective, I think the countries (in Europe) where euthanasia is allowed (Holland and Belgium for example) have, in general, excellent and extensive health care provision.*

Thank you. I think an added difficulty is the type of treatment provided. Borderline personality disorder in my opinion is an insulting diagnosis. It has been found time and time again that BPD is a result of trauma in childhood. To pathologise such trauma is only (again in my opinion) going to entrench distress. In fact it was suggested by Judith Herman, a feminist psychiatrist, that BPD be renamed complex PTSD to remove stigma and make clear it was a response rather than ineherant. Funnily enough I have mentioned this before and many posters said 'well, I have been diagnosed with both'. This only goes to show that such diagnoses have been entirely made up, they are simply an observation of suffering and a display of a need to quantify and explain such suffering by psychiatrists - this is all the DSM is.

So, my point is, you can offer all the 'treatment' you want but if it is entrenching this belief that suffering as a result of abuse is 'inherent mental illness' then how can healing take place?

I have been in the psychiatric system for the majority of my life and seen so much blindness to the effects of childhood abuse it would shock. Only now have I found a therapist who doesn't label me, who sees me as human being with a unique set of responses to a terrible childhood. But still, three hours of this a week is a drop in the ocean.

Do I think that some people have been so damaged that they can't be helped? I am not sure, simply because I do not know of anywhere that offers individuals everything they need to recover. In the absence of such help do I think there are individuals that have no way out of their pain other than suicide? Yes, sadly I do.

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