Assisted suicide affects many kinds of people from various backgrounds in many ways. Read the stories of these people who have engaged on the issue, been personally affected, and have been coerced and abused. Assisted suicide legislation is dangerous and discriminatory.
Assisted Suicide is not an Acceptable Answer from the Medical Community
Dr. Laurie Petrillo MD,
Palliative Care Specialist
Blacks and Latinos REJECT Assisted Suicide
Director, Minority OutreachNot Dead Yet
Facing Deadly Discrimination
Director, MA, Second Thoughts
Director, NE, Not Dead Yet
You are NOT a burden
It is not uncommon for people with disabilities and elders who may not be physically well to feel like they’re a burden on their families. Prescribing doctors in Oregon last year reported that more than half of program suicides felt like a burden on family, friends, or caregivers. Sadly, if physician assisted suicide were to become law in Massachusetts, some people may be coerced, either subtly or more obviously, by their families to agree to this.
Historically, people with psychiatric diagnoses have been subjected to all forms of legal and extra-legal coercion, often abetted by these same professionals. Gatekeeping professionals continue to underestimate our capabilities and block us from living our own lives. Based on these experiences, we cannot trust that counselors will have our best interests in mind when evaluating our motives for requesting assisted suicide.
At the same time, people in the midst of a severe depression can usually present as “unimpaired,” especially in a single meeting with an unknown counselor.
Those of us in M-POWER know that depression is insidious. We know that depression does impair judgment. As a therapist once told me, depression does not cause black and white thinking; it causes black and blacker thinking. Absolute hopelessness and seeing no way out are common feelings for those of us who have experienced severe depression. Personally, as someone who has been suicidal in the past, I can relate to the desire for “a painless and easy way out.” However, depression is treatable and reversible. Suicide is not.
A Cheap Substitute for Care
Living Longer Than Prognosis
In fact, we even had an unexpected third child when his doctors said even that was not possible. Doctors’ prognosis are often inaccurate and patients can live much longer and fuller than ever expected. When he passed, leaving behind our 3 children, aged 10, 7 and 3, every unpredicted day of Paul’s life mattered.
In addition to cutting short his unpredicted longer life by an unnatural death, the further tragedy would have been all we would have lost that often only occurs during the very end stage of dying. In that time, even while on oxygen, weak and coughing throughout, Paul painstakingly made individual video tapes for our children expressing his love and hopes for them.
Paul and I cried together, prayed together, shared intimate conversations of love and forgiveness. Those conversations were so healing —and they never would have occurred like that in prior weeks when he was feeling stronger.
And as I saw Paul weaken, it helped me to loosen my desperate grip on my beloved husband and to be able to let him go as well. Soon thereafter, with hospice support and with our 10 year old daughter, Julia ---who later said that if her dad had taken a cocktail to die that it would have felt like a betrayal to her--- instead, she stroked his face and whispered, “Daddy, you can go home now; we will be okay. . “, and Paul passed painlessly and peacefully.
Truly, I tell you, there is so much profound purposefulness in the very final stages of dying. It was such a sacred process that I would have never wanted to cut short. Personally, I know that the subsequent grief that my children and I endured was immeasurably more uncomplicated and had more closure due to sharing in the natural process of death together.