*TRIGGER WARNING: this article talks about suicide and depression*
I have had two major experiences in my life that have deeply changed my outlook on the world. The first experience being the death of my mother in 2013 when I was ten years old. She had been suffering from breast cancer for about a year when the tumor moved to her brain, obviously making her case of cancer terminal. She was 42.
The next experience was the suicide of my elderly neighbor in 2016. They* had been suffering from ischemic heart disease (an incurable condition) and had early signs of cancer. They also had a few issues within their family, which caused my neighbor an awful lot of stress. My neighbor was 80. The case has only recently been publicized, for reasons that are too complex to get into.
Even though these experiences could be seen as unrelated and that they happened three years apart from one another, both situations do have a lot in common. Both my mother and neighbor were in horrific pain both mentally and physically. There was no way that their mental/physical state was going to improve. Surely, without making these poor people suffer in pain for a horrendously long time, their lives could have been put to an end in a calm, painless way. Surely letting terminally ill people die peacefully and painlessly is more ethical than letting them suffer? We put animals down if they have an incurable illness, why not allow this for the people that we love?
Of course, guidelines should be put onto euthanasia. For example, I believe it shouldn’t be administered to minors that are depressed. My neighbor was 80 years old, they had lived a long, full life. They weren’t 15 and suicidal. However, I think euthanasia can be given to minors that unfortunately have a terminal condition, and they consent for euthanasia to be administered to them.
Near the end of my mother’s life, she was brain dead. She was definitely not in a sound state of mind to consent for the administration of euthanasia. But if it were legal, she could have potentially consented to this in the early stages of her illness, in case something were to happen.
I hope that the laws surrounding euthanasia change soon, and the lives of the terminally ill /severely depressed can be put to a peaceful, painless end if they so wish.
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
*I have used gender-neutral language to refer to my neighbor as this case is one that has been in court recently. It has also been highly publicized where I live, and I am hoping to retain some sense of anonymity to all people involved.
UPDATE (19/06/19): Since the publishing of this article, Victoria has legalised voluntary euthanasia! Victoria is the first Australian state to do this. This is a fantastic step in the right direction to save the terminally ill from suffering, and I do hope that other states will follow suit!
UPDATE (15/12/19): Western Australia (my state!) has now legalised voluntary euthanasia!