A 23-year-old Belgian woman, Kelly, told the Daily Mail that she is seeking to legally end her life through euthanasia on account of her mental health struggles. The article describes Kelly as “plagued by mental health problems” leading her to seek “to die as soon as legally possible.”
Belgium is one of three countries with legal assisted suicide and does not distinguish between mental and physical pain. Because of this, Kelly is not the first person suffering from mental illness to seek legal assisted suicide. A physically healthy 24-year-old Belgian woman with suicidal thoughts was approved for euthanasia. In the Netherlands, a 29-year-old Aurelia Bowers was one of 83 people killed by assisted suicide for mental illness.
According to the Daily Mail, “Mental health patients account for about three per cent of the 17,000 people killed since the law was changed in this country of 11 million citizens. There were 2,357 deaths last year – ten times as many as in the first year euthanasia was legal in Belgium….”
Kelly, according to the Daily Mail, has “attempted suicide, was hospitalised, suffered eating disorders and started to self-harm,” claiming, “It was easier to feel the pain from self-harm then the pain in my head. At least the pain from self-harm goes away, unlike the pain inside that is always there.”
Disturbingly, Kelly learned it was possible for her to apply for euthanasia from a psychologist in the hospital where she was undergoing treatment. Despite immediately making plans to pursue assisted suicide, Kelly did not tell her parents with whom she lives, her identical twin sister, or younger siblings about her plans to end her life until after seeking out psychiatrists to confirm her mental pain is “unbearable and untreatable.”
When Kelly did finally inform her family of her plans, she says, “My father was very shocked, he cried and I grabbed him. I was almost crying, too. It was very moving but also painful to see him like that.” Her father’s reaction is not uncommon for the families of people seeking to end their lives through assisted suicide, though often the families’ pain and grief is not discussed.
As many psychiatrists have pointed out, for people suffering from mental health issues, their condition can improve over time with treatment. Offering death as a “solution” to mental suffering does not relieve the sufferer’s mental anguish; it merely ends his or her life.
As the interviewer observed of speaking with Kelly, “It was disturbing to talk in such an open manner about the possible death of someone so friendly and physically in their prime.”
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