Hear from a Terminally Ill Person
I wish to add my voice to the inquiry into assisted suicide and/or euthanasia, and wish to state clearly that I don’t want this to be legalized.
I am a registered nurse who has worked for the last 15 years at Hospice. I work primarily in an inpatient unit, but also in people’s homes, and am proud to be a Hospice nurse. Hospice seeks to neither ‘hasten death, nor prolong life’ but to impart choice, dignity and comfort to the dying. I get to see the very best of humanity every day at work.
I also have a terminal diagnosis of cancer myself, so feel in a strong position to talk from personal experience.
My work and my own values/beliefs are based on the principles that everyone’s life has value, is precious, and that death is a natural part of life.
I have had many discussions – with increasing frequency since this petition has been presented- with both the dying and their family/friends. People are frightened of this emotive subject almost as much as (many of them) are afraid of death itself. What they ALL want to know is that they will not be abandoned, they will not be left to suffer and they will continue to have choices. (NB choosing to withdraw active treatment is NOT the same as assisted suicide, and is a choice that all people already have.)
Even those that ask me to help end this ‘unbearable’ life are very thankful that I/we didn’t when we work with them to relieve the symptom/issue that was making their life unbearable. Asking to die seems to me an attempt to avoid pain (either physical or emotional/spiritual) – much the same as many other addictive and avoiding behaviors. To ask to die is less courageous – it denies the person themselves and their family to address underlying symptoms, issues and fears. I have seen great healing (of relational and/or emotional matters) in most of the families we have the privilege of supporting. As a hospice, we also achieve acceptable comfort in almost every case…even in those rare cases where sedation is required to achieve it.
I suspect that those who are supporting this proposal are wanting to ensure that they will continue to have choices as they age and/or face disease processes. I strongly believe there are better ways to ensure we all have choices as we face life’s challenges. Perhaps we as a nation need to be communicating more effectively what choices already exist?
I have grave concerns that legalizing assisted suicide will further undermine the value we as individuals and as a nation put on life; and provide a really confusing double message in this nation with an already far too high youth suicide rate….(eg: don’t commit suicide when you are young – wait till you are old and/or finding anything unbearable!)
In Summary: Please do not allow legalized assisted suicide and/or euthanasia.