When am I Allowed to die?

timthumbWithin recent years the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the laws against physicians helping their patients end their lives. When that happened, the House of Commons had until today to make up new legislation in place of the laws that were wiped off the law books. Bill C-14 was the new Liberal Government’s answer to the Supreme Court’s decision.  Now it’s before the senate, the appointed part of the government that is meant to keep the elected House of Commons in check and ensure the wrong bills do not become law.

According to some, the senate has failed in its task: 10 years ago it allowed same sex marriage, 40 or so years ago the House of Commons allowed abortion through without a hint of wanting to pass legislation, and more physicians are on the verge of legally being allowed to help a patient commit suicide. For others the bill doesn’t do enough because it does not give the patients enough freedoms at the right time. For me the bill awakens many questions I have regarding death, as I’m a person who struggles with suicide on a weekly basis.

 When do I have the right to end my life?

Assisted suicide really changes the question doesn’t it? Instead of it being a matter of do I have a right to end my life, it becomes a matter of when. Can the government put a time line on this?

According to Bill C-14, yes they can. In Canada it is illegal to counsel someone to commit suicide, and you are criminally responsible if you aid someone to do so. Unless, of course, one a medical practitioner, such as a doctor or a nurse, and the following criteria is met:

Whereas suicide is a significant public health issue that can have lasting and harmful effects on individuals, families and communities;
Whereas, in light of the above considerations, permitting access to medical assistance in dying for competent adults whose deaths are reasonably foreseeable strikes the most appropriate balance between the autonomy of persons who seek medical assistance in dying, on one hand, and the interests of vulnerable persons in need of protection and those of society, on the other;
What do they mean by a competent adult whose death is imminent? Isn’t death an imminent thing for all 7 billion people on earth, given non one knows when they will breathe their last?  Good thing the bill contains the amendment would add 241.1 to the criminal code, which defines the criteria for medically assisted death and what it means to have “imminent death”:
(a) they are eligible — or, but for any applicable minimum period of residence or waiting period, would be eligible — for health services funded by a government in Canada;
(b) they are at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their health;
(c) they have a grievous and irremediable medical condition;
(d) they have made a voluntary request for medical assistance in dying that, in particular, was not made as a result of external pressure; and
(e) they give informed consent to receive medical assistance in dying.
So let me go over this checklist: I am a Canadian citizen, I am over the age of 18 and can make my own decisions with regards to my health, I do have two medical conditions (BPD and autism) that I will never be ‘cured’ of in the medical sense of the term, I have not asked for doctors to help me commit suicide but I have tried to do it numerous times in the past, and still have not done e. So according to that criteria, I could make attempts to get someone who is a medical practitioner to end my life.
Assisted_Dying
Yet, as things stand now I cannot do that. If I was seriously considering answering my suicidal thoughts with an attempts, and I asked for assistance, the doctor would not help me. Instead my physician would put me on a form 1: The form that writes that due to my clear intent to harm myself or others, I am to be locked up in a mental health facility with minimal items. During that time I cannot wear my own clothing, have anything that could be considered a weapon, and wait at most  72 hours to get my privileges back.  Not the same as someone who is terminally ill.

What is the difference between a terminal illness and a mental illness? Why does the cancer patient who has no hope of being cancer not get put on a form once when they want to end their life before the Latin becomes too much and too pointless to bare? Why does my suicide ideation not result in my doctor helping me to die? What is the difference between bipolar and Alzheimer’s?

According to the new bill, there is enough:

(2) A person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition only if they meet all of the following criteria:
(a) they have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability;
(b) they are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability;
(c) that illness, disease or disability or that state of decline causes them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable; and
(d) their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all of their medical circumstances, without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time that they have remaining.

I am happy they included psychological suffering in letter c). For those who know what it is like to have their minds turn against them, they know psychological suffering can be on par with physical suffering. Perhaps even more so as medications can only go so far to getting the mind back on the person’s side. Well, I suppose I fit a). I do have incurable disabilities that I will live with until the day I die.  Though it fails to meet b-d I suppose. Because I went through therapy and am taking medication, both are reasonably under control.

So according to this bill, I have the right to end my life the moment I meet all of those criteria. I can ask a doctor to do it provided I can get it in writing and sign it myself, or have someone I trust over the age of 18 sign it. In the meantime, if I actively plan out and try to bring harm to myself to ensure I die as a result I will be put on a form 1 if I get caught.

Sometimes it makes me wonder, though, how my BPD does not qualify me for assisted dying should C-14 passes through the senate.  My suicidal thoughts can come at a moment’s notice. That in and of itself is psychological suffering, and one never knows when it will result in me picking up a knife or overdosing on my pills. When will the stars align right so that no one will stop me? In all honesty, I am not sure anymore.

Do the stars align right when I read about a man only getting 14 months sentence for raping a woman, instead of the minimum sentence of 14 years? Or do I need to wait for the next huge argument where someone says I belong in jail because I did things that are signs I have Borderline Personality Disorder, not signs I’m just a no-good criminal?  What about if agree with the people who say the world sucks, and they hate it? After all, if the world is just this horrible place not worth living in and the only way out of it is death, who cares if I do not live to tell about the next day?

Well, the answer to that question comes in many answers: Make the world a better place is one. Yep, I am supposed to stay alive in this shitty world in order to improve the lives of 7 billion people. Wow, I do not feel pressured at all. Why aren’t you out doing it, instead of telling me, the suicidal one, that the world sucks and you hate living in it?!

wpid-SC20130623-030242-1Another answer that gets tossed around is I remove myself from the possibility of life getting better if I successfully take my life. Indeed I do, but I also remove the possibility I will have to face anymore hardship, not knowing if BPD will let me get up the next morning, and hearing about how much the world sucks.  I would not have to endure the endless, and sometimes pointless, social justice debates that carry on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms. Life would end and I would not have to endure all of this bullshit the world insists we all go through.

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Actually, in certain wings of the hospital, people are waiting to die. That’s the whole point of bills like C-14: Giving people a choice to go through the pain, time, and effort waiting around to let a disease have the final say. 

I know what you are thinking: Well, you’re a person of faith. God does not want me to die! That is true, and a much better argument: God did not send his Son to die on the cross for me because He could not care less if I lived until I was 80 or took my life at 26.  At the same time, God did not send Jesus to die for me so He could send me to hell because BPD crushed my spirit beyond repair that I took my life.  Besides, the Bible does contain passages that don’t exactly shout “Staying Alive! Staying alive!”:

“Let the day of my birth be erased,    and the night I was conceived.Let that day be turned to darkness.    Let it be lost even to God on high,    and let no light shine on it.Let the darkness and utter gloom claim that day for its own.    Let a black cloud overshadow it,    and let the darkness terrify it.Let that night be blotted off the calendar,    never again to be counted among the days of the year,    never again to appear among the months.Let that night be childless.    Let it have no joy.Let those who are experts at cursing—    whose cursing could rouse Leviathan[a]    curse that day.Let its morning stars remain dark.    Let it hope for light, but in vain;    may it never see the morning light.10 Curse that day for failing to shut my mother’s womb,    for letting me be born to see all this trouble. (Job 3:1b-10)

the-crucifixionSo why stay alive? Well I have said this in my VLOG about why I should stay alive. But today I will focus on my faith to explain why I should stay alive in spite of this shitty world:

  1. God created me and sent Jesus Christ to die for me. For those reasons, my life is not worthless. Therefore, I should preserve it instead of actively look for means to destroy.
  2. This world and all people in it have value because God created the world and people, and God redeemed them in Christ: I believe that on Good Friday to Easter Sunday God began the redemption of the world He created. In that truth alone, I will not wipe away the world and human beings as worthless and beyond hope.
  3. There is good in the world, and often that is in spite of all the bad. Is there a lot of shitty things going on? You bet! However, there is a lot of good: Pride month is an example of the good; charities giving to the poor and needy are an example of good; more resources for the mentally ill is an example of the good; Justin Trudeau’s diverse cabinet that includes an equal amount of men and women, people of colour, young people and old people, and people with disabilities are an example of good; organizations like World Vision making the world a better place in its worst crevices is an example; Cities, towns, villages, and in the middle of the country adopting compost and recycling along with garbage is a sign of the good; churches and christian organizations opening up women’s shelters is an example of the good; and I could go on and on. For every bad thing humans do there is immense good they do.
  4. There are people in my life that keep me going. I will not list names here, but God has provided people in my life that breathe goodness in my life and show it is not so bad.
  5. The little small things I can celebrate: If I believe God is Creator, and that in Christ he saves me, then I can believe that God has provided good things in my life to help keep me going. Examples? These are in no particular order: Classical music, my family, Star Wars, good food, Justin Trudeau and Canada’s new government, and my list could continue. These are not huge, ground breaking good things but they are good things because they make me smile, and give me a reason to face the day.
  6. Cannot voice my opinion from the grave. One thing I like about living in a country like Canada is I can voice my opinion in many different moments and platforms. I also can voice them through novels I have in the works. I cannot do that if I am still in the grave.

There are 6 reasons for me to stay alive. I would have gone for the perfect 7 but this post is already over 2000 words. I am sort of sorry it was long, but not sorry to write this!

So what was my point? Well… I suppose my point is there are reasons to die, and there are reasons to live.  What matters most is the permanency and unknown of death worth giving up the uncertainty, and mixed baggage that is life? For me I have chosen that death is not worth it and I want to live.

 

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