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As one who has survived suicide, I truly understand the dark places that our thoughts can take us to. I’m very familiar with fear and deep depression that overpowers a person. They want to escape the intense psychological, physiological and emotional pain that overwhelms them. At that moment, choosing to live is too hard. Additionally, choosing to die is hard but seems like the better solution. At least, the pain and anguish now has an end. This is the lie a person at risk embraces. In this blog, I will provide facts about suicide and dispel the myths. Feel free to comment on my blogs and to ask questions. And remember...
All of us are greater than any one of us -- the best way to fight suicide is to work together to create suicide safe communities.
Your friend Bill
|Posted by Bill on February 4, 2016 at 11:40 PM||comments (0)|
In 1993, Robert Latimer, killed Tracey, his disabled 12 year old daughter, because he wanted to end her pain. Today he is appealing the Supreme Court to overturn his sentence.
In Canada, helping a person commit suicide is a crime. It’s spelled out in Criminal Code Section 241 (b) — and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
The first doctor to be sentenced in Canada under the law was Maurice Généreux, who got a jail term of two years less a day and three years' probation in 1998 for prescribing sleeping pills to two men with AIDS who were depressed but not terminally ill. One of the men survived and later launched a civil suit against Généreux.
Canada does allow doctors to induce a coma and turn off life-sustaining equipment for suffering patients near death, a practice known as palliative sedation that right-to-die advocates argue is ethically, morally and legally no different than assisted suicide or euthanasia. (CBC, Posted Oct 11, 2014 9:54 PM ET)
Recently in 2015, The Supreme court of Canada said, “A law that makes it illegal for anyone to help people end their own lives should be amended to allow doctors to help in specific situations.”
I’d like to believe that this ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada would never include children. But in other countries such as Albania, Australia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, and some states in the USA that have legalized assisted suicide have already started with people who are seniors without terminal illnesses, people with mental illnesses, and people with disabilities. Now children have been added to their list of qualified/competent candidates for Assisted Suicide in Belgium. In an article called Belgium Extends Euthanasia Law to Kids they talked about how they put children down, “Usually, doctors do this by administering an overdose of sedatives.” Later in the article a parent from Canada responded, “A plea also came from Canada earlier this month, where a four-year-old girl born with a congenital heart condition recorded a video message urging Belgium’s King Philippe not to sign the law, which is the final formality. Her mother told the monarch that she was concerned that a child like her daughter—who grew up to be a happy, active child—could be euthanized after birth.” (Belgium Extends Euthanasia Law to Kids, Time.com, Posted February 13, 2014). By the way, all the countries mentioned above legalized euthanasia by convincing the public that this was only for adults who were competent and had a terminal illness.
The implications that we are about to embark on in Canada with legalizing assisted suicide will send a terrible message to our young people. They could interpret the law that if life becomes or is too hard— the solution will be suicide to end their pain. This new law may also empower people to believe like Mr. Latimer who murdered his daughter Tracey, that they can play God in peoples lives and that this ruling of the Supreme Cout of Canada shouldn't only apply to physicians to asist people to suicide.
As a husband, father and advocate for suicide prevention, and advocate for people with disabilities, I’m afraid for our country’s future. To think that when I’m old, a doctor who has no history on me as a human being could ultimately rob me of my decision to live and face life head on no matter how physically or emotionally weak I feel is un-Canadian and simply put—evil. This could also force a doctor who believes that their job is to help people live commit murder.
The HuffPost writes, "The College’s interim policy states: Where a physician declines to provide physician-assisted death for reasons of conscience or religion, the physician must do so in a manner that respects patient dignity. Physicians must not impede access to care, even if that care conflicts with their conscience or religious beliefs." The article goes on to write "We do not agree with assisted suicide and euthanasia. We think implementing them in the country is not a good path to go on, it will cause great harm,” Collins told The Huffington Post Canada’s Althia Raj on Sirius satellite radio’s “Everything Is Political.””
If you think you can protect your spouse, parents and children when they're in a life threatening situation in a hospital, think again, because a doctor will soon not need your permission to resistate a person at risk of dying.
Now our new government, the Liberals, under Justin Trudeau in their Biennial Convention in 2014 voted to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Not to single out the Liberal Party, the NDP feel the same way. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the PC Party, had a year to overturn and challenge the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2015. But he chose to ignore the decision. Perhaps because of the election campaign and in fear he would lose the election. Sadly, Mr. Harper, did lose— and so did lots of Canadians who value human life at all stages. Let’s face it; assisted suicide IS NOT about Human Rights; this is all about political economics and their efforts to ease the growing numbers of our over populated human world. Why, you may ask? It could be to relieve the burden on our costly health care systems.
|Posted by Bill on January 25, 2015 at 6:35 PM||comments (0)|
We are living in a turbulent era. At all stages of life, choosing death is becoming a viable solution to escape various types of pain one is suffering from. This goes beyond being a solution to physical pain.
These days, people are blurring the line between suicide for themselves and advocating for vulnerable people having the right to suicide. In other words, having the right to end their “miserable” lives. So who decides?
There are several groups vying for this right – e.g. the elderly, the terminally ill, the mentally ill, etc. The debates for these groups go on. Life is not valued if it doesn’t resemble the perfect mold of what society views as “normal”. If it’s not normal, it’s not healthy. So who’s the judge of this?
Even more alarming is when someone else has the right to choose death as a solution for another person. This is the new debate for the specific group of vulnerable people that are the focus of this blog post. I’m deeply concerned about those individuals with intellectual, mental and physical disabilities whom I have supported or continue to support. Who will stand up for their right to life in the years to come?
Recently, I discovered that some doctors are now encouraging advocates and agencies that support vulnerable people to endorse the following argument. When a disabled person’s health starts to fail, their doctors/agency workers should be allowed to sign a “do not resuscitate” document for them. This assumes that people with disabilities cannot make the proper decision for themselves. It implies that, somehow, medical professionals and support workers should have the right to make the choice for them. Where does this logic come from?
I have personally seen people with all types of disabilities overcome their challenges. When we invest the time to understand their attitudes and personalities we encounter people capable of leading vital lives. Maybe their life choices don’t make sense to most of us but they make perfect sense to them. Isn’t this kind of freedom what we all want?
Today, most people with disabilities are leading active and full lives with their families, friends, and communities. They are valued and loved by their social sphere. Notably, they have a lot to offer to a broken world. How long can we afford to remain too distracted to notice their true value?
Individuals with disabilities have their own unique way of expressing happiness and joy in their lives. Taking the time to get to know and understand them reveals this. In fact, those people connected with vulnerable people express how devastated they would be if they lost them from their lives. I have seen parents being strong advocates for their children in their communities. I have fought very hard to make people aware of the value of disabled individuals. I wonder how many of them take me seriously?
I find it alarming – sad really – that society might think or believe that suicide is a better solution for vulnerable people. More specifically, taking away the right for someone making the personal choice to live with his or her disability; even when the choice is to face physical pain or the failure of one’s health. Hypothetically, would we make this choice if it was our child? Our spouse? Our parent? Our friend?
The next time a doctor encourages you to sign a form to not resuscitate another person think long and hard. I would ask them, “Do you know how much this beautiful person loves life? How valued they are to the many people they are connected with?”
Here is a video to help you think on this topic. Tim Harris, a young man living with Down syndrome is the owner of Tim’s Place. Tim says something real powerful and incredible at the end of his YouTube video, “We are a gift to the world.”
|Posted by Bill on November 24, 2014 at 12:35 PM||comments (0)|
Too often parents or loved ones get blamed for people’s suicide decisions. Society is quick to make assumptions. They explain away suicide victims by saying things like, “If they had better parents, environments, education or socio-economic status this tragedy wouldn't have happened.” This is faulty thinking. In actuality, no one is immune to becoming a person-at-risk for suicide.
“Each year in Canada nearly 4,000 people end their lives by suicide. Research shows that for every death by suicide, 6-10 other individuals are profoundly affected. By this estimate, between 24,000 and 40,000 Canadians become survivors of suicide loss every year. Grief and bereavement from suicide loss can be a wholly unique, isolating, and often stigmatizing experience.”
Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2014
The reasons that contribute to a person’s choice to suicide are too numerous and too individualized to pinpoint any specific causes. This is the great tragedy that those who suffer suicide loss usually face. They are the ones left behind trying to make sense of it all while being frowned upon and treated poorly by those outside the situation. Family members, neighbours and those in the community who point the finger and play the blame game.
To make matters worse the people left behind are often forgotten. They live with intense grief and guilt. In time, those who grieve can also become a person at risk themselves. The cycle of suicide continues in a family and in a community. It becomes a generational curse – a cycle of suicide.
So, what do we do? LivingWorks Canada provides an internationally endorsed solution to this question. Train members of a community to be ready, willing and able to intervene. The ASIST workshop equips community helpers with an effective model. Trainees learn to hear and see the invitations (or indicators) that persons-at-risk are communicating. These are not always easy to spot. ASIST also teaches helpers how to listen to and understand what the person at risk for suicide is going through. Active listening can help them feel cared for and understood. Skillful reframing of dark thoughts into thoughts connected to life brings them back. Trust is partially restored and they want to be safe – to have hope again.
As for those suffering from suicide loss, they can find a safe place to share their pain during the ASIST workshop. They are able to speak openly and candidly about their experience and the emotions of grief they are struggling with. The greatest tragedy is when people that suicide are not talked about. Worse yet they are talked about in a negative way. This needs to stop.
Communities must start honouring the life that was lost prematurely. Suicide is a tragedy and the people we lose are victims. The great moments and memories of their life must not go unmentioned. Their life must be celebrated. In time, their pictures can be put back up again. When their name is mentioned it should be with smiles on our faces. Because we love them. Because we miss them.
|Posted by Bill on October 28, 2014 at 12:50 AM||comments (5)|
Over 20 years have passed since I tried to take my life. There were major contributors to the stress and anxiety that brought me to that dark place. I was 18 years old.
At the time, the relationship with my father had been severed. My girlfriend broke up with me. My own life was going nowhere, and, I was a bit of a mess – to say the least. These two events felt like huge losses in my life back then. No one I came into contact with was able to pick up on my intense desire -- to end my life – to suicide. It didn't matter that other people thought my problems were not that huge -- to me, they were insurmountable. This was the last straw in a series of failures in my life.
I heard about other people’s survival stories. Of how they overcame tragedies in their lives. It didn’t matter. My problems seemed bigger. I was convinced that nobody cared about me and that I was alone…yet again. It was obvious to me, no one cared to hear why I wanted to just DIE. I was ashamed of my weakness. I was afraid that things would never get better. I was convinced of it.
No. Like most others who have experienced this dark place, I isolated myself. I became my own best counsellor, judge and executioner. To escape this pain and humiliation I would have to take matters into my own hands – literally. So, I slashed my wrists. I won’t go any further with the devilish details of this.
After the ordeal at the hospital was over, I sat in my room alot -- thinking. My mind wandered from time to time back to those morbid thoughts. It would be so easy to go back there -- to that dark place. Somehow, a gentle voice -- piercing thought – sliced into the swell of my mind. "Is that what you want your mother to go through?" Right at that moment, the vision of my mother's face was before me. Her reassuring smile was no longer there. Instead she was weeping bitterly. I realized what I had just done. For a moment the spell of suicide was broken. This was the beginning of a long journey.
I know about those thoughts that tell you “You’re NOT worth anything!” Those screeching, vile voices that repeatedly harass you to, “Just do it—do--it--DO IT!” I succumbed to those thoughts then. I struggled with them for years later. I healed from them over time. Today – and every day – is a good day. I have put things back into perspective. I have gained back control of my life. A life I have vowed to protect daily. A life, now dedicated to helping others like myself find their way back...from the dark place.