Photo of Mark Henick by Keith Beaty / Toronto Star
Copy right-Posted on Toronto Star
Elizabeth King is a freelance writer in Hamilton.
I fear now, with Canada’s physician-assisted suicide Bill C-14, that we’ve effectively minimized the horror of suicide and the benefit of perseverance. I’m certain that it’s only a matter of time before we allow people with treatable mental illnesses to cut their lives short.In fact, the parliamentary committee recommended that the mentally ill should have the right to die. When it wasn’t granted, the media erupted with people with depression demanding it be amended. However, with open-ended phrases like “intolerable suffering,” assisted suicide will surely be given to virtually anyone, but especially to the mentally ill who have a seamless case for intolerable suffering.
I know it firsthand. My depression began at 14 and went on for about ten years. I was able to function well at times, but it was always there, and sometimes I needed hospitalization. I was constantly in therapy and tried dozens of drugs. The suffering was mysterious in that I’d think I couldn’t tolerate the mental anguish a second longer, only to tolerate more pain, much longer. I know we have trouble thinking of things being infinite, but I swear depression feels timeless and bottomless, as if there’s no end to the rope.
I was eventually given the antidepressant Zoloft and after a few weeks I realized my depression had ended. I innately knew I was feeling was what normal people feel like and what I had felt like before high school. My hope was restored, bubbling up during adversity, as it does with healthy people.
The experience of pain is self-centered, and I don’t mean this in an accusatory way, but this is why we need people around us, distracting us from ourselves.
So to summarize, I had a bad depression—a terrible illness—and I recovered and went on to live a (sometimes messy) but beautiful life. Depression has been the great contrast to all the good. More importantly, I witnessed true compassion and mercy from people when I was at my lowest, something healthy and happy people simply can’t know.
I had no dramatic moments but I had many great heroes around me—my family, medical professionals, even strangers---but also my peers who were suffering from depression. We lifted each other up, even though we couldn’t do it for ourselves. We supported and encouraged each other to carry on and keep fighting.
There’s another element to the news story I told at the beginning, a villain. When Mark Henick was teetering on the brink of suicide, a man below called him a coward and told him to jump.
Anyone advocating for assisted suicide for the mentally ill, don’t kid yourself. You’re not the hero in the story; you’re suffering from misplaced mercy. No matter what happens to Bill C-14, the heroes are there beside you, making small talk, telling you to hang on, and yanking you back by your shirt when you need it the most. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2016/04/21/real-heroes-are-the-ones-fighting-for-life.html