Assist people with mental illnesses to thrive not die!
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I'm so glad I didn't kill myself when I wanted to.
I was pretty sure that suicide was my only option. In fact, I was convinced that I wanted nothing more than for the pain I felt inside to go away, and to be at peace from the anguish and chaos in my mind.
The suffering seemed intolerable, and I carried it for years.
What I didn't know, and it took me a long time to learn, was that these thoughts were symptoms. I had depression, an anxiety disorder, a history of trauma.
After lots (and lots and lots) of practice, and more than a few set backs, I discovered a powerful lesson. We think what we learn. That was pretty powerful for me. It meant that, since we could learn new things, we could also learn to think differently.
But I didn't know that when I felt my worst, when I thought that I wanted to die. I wouldn't have believed it anyway.
I believed the lies that my mental illness told me.
What I needed most during those times was compassionate and caring people - family, friends, doctors - who wouldn't believe those lies too.
When I most wanted to give up, I needed people who wouldn't.
A parliamentary committee has recommended that doctors assist in the death of people with mental illnesses who want to die by suicide.
You can read the full report for yourself here: http://goo.gl/5kxGkL
Based on this, I believe that the majority of the committee members deeply misunderstand how and why suicide happens among people with mental health problems and illnesses. They misunderstand that death by suicide in these cases is a tragic outcome of what didn't need to be a terminal illness.
They misunderstand that when someone is suicidal, while our capacity and competency to make decisions usually remains, the options we have to choose from become limited and distorted by the very symptoms we're fighting to overcome. That doesn't mean we can't make choices - it means we could choose differently were other options available to our minds.
In an effort to be equal to both physical and mental illnesses, the committee overlooked what our real responsibility as a compassionate society is to people living with mental health problems. We need to ensure that they have every reason to live, and every option to thrive.
Mental illnesses do not have to be terminal.
This is not about end-of-life care. It is not about dying with dignity. It isn't about religion, or politics, or constitutional theory.
This is about not giving up.
Recovery from even seemingly "irremediable" mental illnesses is not just possible - it's likely and even expected with the right supports and within a system that works.
The Supreme Court gave the government until June 6
It's by then that government will need to produce new laws to deal with this issue. I'm asking that before then we tell the government that this part of the committee's recommendations regarding the assisted death of people with mental illnesses is unacceptable.
It is not compassionate, or progressive, to abandon people with mental health problems and illnesses when they need us most. That's not who we are.
Everyone who is struggling deserves assistance in finding their way to thrive.
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