Okay, so I’m going to talk to the best of my abilities about what the differences between Suicide, Physician Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia, and Medical Assistance in Dying are. There really are no clear definitions used universally and some terms are used solely to stigmatize medical assistance in dying.
Suicide is an act of desperation. Suicide is the act of a mind that is so overwhelmed with emotions that it cannot think straight. If you’ve never suffered from major depression you’ll never know how tempting suicide is. Suicide is one of those things that no one ever talks about. As a society, we’re very hush-hush about this to the point that we like to pretend that it doesn’t exist. And if society does acknowledge the existence of suicide society often talks about how crazy the person was that committed suicide and how selfish they were and how much pain and suffering they selfishly inflicted upon others.
Suicide is often not planned for and as such family members, relatives, friends and co-workers can often be left devastated. Family members are often left wondering why their loved one committed suicide and if there were any signs they missed and if there was something they could have done. Suicide often has impacts on others as well such as the landlord or property owner that finds the body. The first responders and bystanders who may have witnessed the suicide will be affected.
How many suicides are there every year? This table is from the BC Coroner’s service.
6,102 people successfully committed suicide in the ten year period starting in 2008. I don’t remember hearing a single news story about these people, do you? Society again thinks that by not talking about suicide that suicide will just simply disappear.
What are the common methods of suicide?
When was the last time you heard of a suicide on the Skytrain? Next time, pay attention to the “Medical Emergency” announcement. Yet between 2008 and 2018 there were 32 successful suicides on the Skytrain. The most prevalent method of suicide is the rather barbaric method of hanging. Let’s be honest, self hanging is NOT the same as hanging used as execution. There is very little chance that the person using hanging as a method will know how to do the proper calculations to ensure a quick death.
And it should go without saying, but committing suicide by Skytrain or railway is not a guaranteed way to go. More often than not you will survive with horrific injuries that will haunt you for the rest of your life.
What is often not discussed is the number of suicide attempts per year. The only stats I can find say that in Canada on any given day 275 people attempt suicide. That’s over 100,000 people per year.
I am not a neurologist, but it’s safe to say that the human brain is fragile and can easily be damaged and not just by physical trauma. The human brain can easily be damaged by traumatic experiences. Because the human brain relies on chemicals to transmit and receive signals any disruptions to these chemicals can cause long term effects. The longer a person suffers from untreated major depression and severe anxiety the more profound the damage becomes.
No amount of telling a depressed person to not be sad or instead to think happy thoughts will fix brain damage caused by trauma. And in the end, no amount of medication of therapy will reverse the psychological damage caused by trauma.
However, the events leading up to suicide tend to be very short term problems that could possibly be dealt with if the person committing suicide believed that they had someone to listen to them.
Physician Assisted Suicide.
Physician assisted suicide is a term that fell out of favour just as quickly as it entered the national vocabulary. When a person with an incurable medical condition wishes to end their life so as not to prolong their needless suffering, they are not committing suicide. And as such, the physician supplying the medication is not assisting in a suicide.
Euthanasia is a term for when a person, typically a doctor, uses medications to end the life of a patient typically without the consent of the patient. Euthanasia is pretty well illegal just about everywhere in the world. The only place that anything close to Euthanasia is practiced in on death row when prisoners are executed.
As much as I am in favour of any mentally competent adult, and children in very strictly controlled circumstances, ending their life for any medical or psychological issue, I don’t think that physicians should be able to decide on their own, or the next of kin for that matter, should be allowed to end the life of another person without very careful consideration from the courts.
Medical Assistance in Dying.
M.A.i.D. is the term for when a person applies to use medications prescribed for the sole purpose of dying. As I’ve said before, M.A.i.D. is something that has to be applied for, and it has to be planned for. When I apply for M.A.i.D. I can promise you that there will be a battery of tests that I will have to go through. It will not be as simple as me just going to my doctor and asking for a note.
Unlike suicide, almost every detail of M.A.i.D. is planned out from start to finish.
And unlike suicide, the medications used will ensure a proper death and not just an attempt.
If the proper drugs are used in the proper dosages the person undergoing the procedure will not feel pain and will not even be aware of their death.
And because M.A.i.D. is always undertaken with a sound, rational, and lucid mind, the person undergoing the procedure can stop the procedure at any time right up until the loss of consciousness. For obvious reasons you can’t withdraw your consent once the Propofol hits your brain.
And yes, during the entire M.A.i.D. process from application to the final day, the person electing to undergo the procedure will be frequently asked if they wish to continue forth or if they want to abandon the procedure.
The where, when, and how will be scheduled like clockwork. There will be no corpse for an unsuspecting landlord or relative to discover. Arrangements are typically made for the disposal of the body after the procedure. There will be no curious absence from work. People who need to be informed will be informed. And the answers as to why will be available to anyone who asks.
Why? Why do you want to kill yourself.
I prefer the term “going to sleep”. Kill implies violence. I’m just going to sleep. A sleep like the 18,250 sleeps that I’ve gone through in my life. Just that this is a sleep that I will never rouse from.
For 42 years now I’ve had to deal with the fallout from CFB Namao. What happened on that base is not something that one can simply get over and forget about. Then there’s the after effects of being swept up in the desire of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces to keep the actions of P.S. and Captain McRae under wraps least the Canadian public discover what happened.
The Canadian Forces determined that my mental health and my mental wellbeing were sacrificial to the greater cause. Whether or not you like to admit it, the Canadian Forces chain of command sentenced me to death in 1980.
For 42 years I lived with and internalized major depression, severe anxiety, gender and orientation confusion, the inability to form friendships, the inability to form intimate relationships, the inability to enjoy life.
I’m 50 years old now. Seriously, I’m now fifty as I type this out. I honestly never thought that I would live to see this milestone.
I am very tired. I’ve fought the depression and the anxiety for as long as I could. I’ve hidden the depression and anxiety with every fibre in my body. I’ve tried my hardest to appear normal. But I am damaged. To say that I am not damaged is to minimize what occurred on Canadian Forces Base Namao when I was 7 to 8-1/2. To say that I am not damaged is to minimize my mistreatment at the hands of Captain Terry Totzke from age 9 to 11-1/2. To say that I am not damaged is to overlook the fact that I was supposed to have been institutionalized due to how bad my mental health had deteriorated by the time I was 11 years old.
I am damaged due to the wilful neglect of others. I am damaged due to the fact that others kept me from receiving timely counselling, therapy, and medication.
The damage was allowed to fester untreated and unmanaged for almost 42 years now.
There is no fixing this damage.
Just because I no longer cry myself to sleep at night doesn’t mean that this damage doesn’t affect me anymore. It just means that I’ve run out of tears to cry and I am almost completely dead on the inside.
The time for “fixing” me was in 1980. Not 2021.
My entire life was wasted because DND and the CF had a secret to hide.
I am actually at peace with myself now.
The more I think about how close I am to the end and how peaceful the transition from living to dead will be I become filled with a feeling of serenity. It’s actually a beautiful peaceful feeling.
I have a lot of unwanted people living in my skull, and they won’t voluntarily leave. They need to be forcefully evicted.
Captain Father Angus McRae;
The man in the sauna;
Captain Terry Totzke;
My father, Mcpl Richard Wayne Gill;
The other victims of P.S. that I keep seeing him abuse over and over;
Earl Ray Stevens;
And many others.
When I go to sleep they’ll never bother me again.
When I go to sleep my major depression and my severe anxiety will never trouble me again.
When I go to sleep I will never wake up in the middle of the night due to horrific dreams.
When I go to sleep I will never again grind my teeth down to nothing.
When I go to sleep I will never be crushed under the weight of a severe anxiety attack.
When I go to sleep my gender and orientation issues will never bother me again.
When I go to sleep all I will ever know is silence.
And after the life that I’ve been through never ending silence is fine by me.