The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

Painless Death?

This is the first article in a three article series.

March 17, 2023. Canada legalized assisted suicide for the mentally ill, the only criteria being a diagnosed mental illness. Upon initially hearing of the plans being made to change the MAID bill in 2021, jealousy pitted itself in my gut. I could drive there, but didn’t have a passport. Oh, how wonderful would it be to die on my own timeline, painlessly, in a socially acceptable way?

Those were the initial thoughts that ran through my mind. That alone tells of how depressed and active my suicidal ideations were. I had plans, but they could prove painful. The last thing I wanted was one more ounce of hurting in my life.

But then my brain switched, as it always does, to the more stable side of logic. What about all those poor, depressed and suicidal people like me? All that stands between them and assisted death could be mere miles.

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If euthanasia had been legalized in the U.S.- and a year or two earlier than 2023- I would not be here today. That’s a guarantee, a sad alternate-reality that easily could have been. I would have driven to any state that legalized it first, just to die painlessly and in a way that wasn’t deemed as giving up or an out. Part of my mind is still resentful towards Canada and not because it’s a tricky alteration to the bill, but because it wasn’t accessible to me. How sick is that? Even though I am stable and mostly healed mentally, my brain continues to teeter back and forth between questionable and concrete.

Mental illness doesn’t just disappear, it ebbs and flows and is a life-long battle. It could be categorized as a chronic illness of sorts, but never explicitly terminal. They can be managed with the right care and ample

support. Certainly, it gets out of hand once in a while, sometimes for months or years, but similarly as with life there are good and bad seasons.

I have a good handful of mental disorders, all of which are terribly exhausting. They impede most aspects of my life, making it difficult to truly live at times. Thankfully, psychiatrists and other doctors have not encouraged me to divulge in the thoughts that fester with them, as it has grown increasingly acceptable to do with others. If eating disorders and body dysmorphia were treated in the same way gender dysphoria was (affirmative care), I would be dead. The same principle applies to severe MDD. If my doctor had given me the option for assisted suicide, why not take that route as opposed to trying and failing with numerous medications, therapy that never works, and multiple inpatient and outpatient stays? “Dying with dignity”, they call it. More like dying without trying.

Assisted suicide for the mentally ill is a moral and ethical dialema. Where does it start, and where does it end? In general, physician assisted death (PAD) and euthanasia for the elderly can be a questionable alternative to a natural- or premature- death caused by old age or terminal illness. But conspicuously so concerning those actively seeking to end their life through unethical means- even if those means are being widely implemented into medical practice. What makes something ethical and humane, and what flirts on the edge of morally gray?

It’s reminiscent of Lowry’s The Giver, and in a very sickening regard. Calling back to Jonas’ experience watching the Elders sending the elderly “elsewhere”, aka- as we discover horrifyingly later in the novel- they are killed via euthanasia. The same goes with the unwanted babies, the ones whose development is slow or a twin who doesn’t pass the weight requirements. It’s more similar to the topic of abortion in today’s world than one might initially think. More of a correlation between the dystopian novel and our own, rather disgusting state of the world, than anything. But I digress.

Primum non nocere. Latin for “First, do no harm.”

Under the Hippocratic oath, doctors promise: “With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage. Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so. Moreover, I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child.” Well doesn’t that seem the exact opposite of today’s medical state of affairs? Poison akin to euthanasia. Administering medicine to pregnant women abortion.

Does life retain any value today?

The arguments for MAID and assisted suicide scream humanity. Just as with animals humans have historically put them down due to rabies or other illness and injuries. But it’s not the same as a human putting down another human for the sake of humanity. That doesn’t add up. At all. One is putting a creature out of its misery, another is killing a fellow human on the same grounds. The argument doesn’t hold up.

Humans have this developed consciousness that no other mammal- or living creature, land or ocean dwelling- has. It allows us to think logically and emotionally, communicate via language and written communication, as well as rationalize ours and others’ thoughts.

What happened to fighting for life? For seeing it as a miracle, and not giving up at the slightest of inconveniences? Cancer sucks. So do other terminal illnesses. Both my grandparents battled with cancer, one of them overcame it and the other lived a long 18 months after his diagnoses- spending time with his family, doting on his daughter and grandchildren, making a forever lasting impression of kindness and humility. Had he taken his remaining time into his own hands, even when in severe pain and suffering, life for everyone else would look vastly different. There would be no time to say goodbye, and his time on earth cut shorter than God had intended.

My grandmother would not have fought to heal as quickly and as wholly as she did if it weren’t for him needing care at home. She was on her deathbed with heart failure, her entire body was shutting down yet due to

my grandfather’s strength and perseverance through his own pain, he saved her in that moment- and she is still alive and thriving almost eight years later.

MAID affects every individual involved, from the medical staff to acquaintances to close relatives. People aren’t given the time to grieve or say goodbye where they would have otherwise been able to. Think of a freak accident or a terrible car wreck. No one is prepared for losing someone so suddenly, and closure is a luxury that loved ones can now only dream of.

Human life is a miraculous gift. Even in the midst of extreme pain, of endless suffering, it is a life that has been given meaning through being alive.

Purely objectively speaking, life should always be celebrated and treated as a gift as opposed to a burden. Even when it doesn’t pan out the way one would have hoped for. Erasing a mistake or trying to write out the pain isn’t “humane”, though it may feel or sound as much.

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About the Contributor
Madelyn Cummins, Writer
Writer 2022- Present

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