A 27-year-old Windsor, Ont. man says he wants to die but the government won’t let him, despite being in constant pain.
That’s because Canada’s assisted dying laws that came into effect last summer don’t apply to those with mental illness.
Adam Maier-Clayton is a business school graduate who has battled anxiety, mood disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder since he was a child. According to the CBC, Maier-Clayton says his debilitating pain is so bad that it feels like parts of his body are being burned by acid. He says the pain is constant but worsens with any type of cognitive activity – even if that means just reading and speaking (he even uses hand singles to communicate with his father).
He says he can’t take it anymore and wants to die with the help of doctors.
“I can’t get through three pages of a book,” he told the CBC. “Just to get through the first two would leave me with six hours of pain. I can’t read, I can’t write.”
As for the cause of the pain, doctors can’t figure it out but think that it must be linked to his mental conditions.
Maier-Clayton has tried a variety of medications and treatments – from antidepressant and anticonvulsant drugs and extensive therapy to experimental ketamine infusion therapy and nothing has helped.
Dying seems to be the only way out, the only solution that he and his father see.
That’s why they want the federal government to hear their cry to legalize doctor-assisted dying for those with mental illness.
“Non-existence is better than this. Non-existence is better than having my father go down my banking history to make sure everything is in check,” he said to the CBC. “The real reason for someone like me wanting the right to die is simple: Once there’s no quality of life, life is akin to a meaningless existence.”
He says current laws sentence him to a life of pain and suffering.
Not surprisingly, experts remain divided when it comes to whether assisted dying laws should include people with mental illness. The issue opens a slew of slippery slopes and controversial opinions.
Some may claim we need more existing support in place for the mentally ill.
“I think people are very worried we’re going to make some bad mistakes and take life away when we haven’t done the appropriate research in psychiatry and mental illness,” said Jean Echlin, who is also an adjunct associate professor at the University of Windsor and president of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, to the CBC.
“If somebody loses their life now, they’re put to death, and two weeks from now there’s a breakthrough, they’ve lost their life when they could have had quality,” she said.
Admittedly, her reasoning could be applied to physical disorders as well, but she does have a valid point.
Others feel that the mentally ill shouldn’t be discriminated against and that we shouldn’t force them into a life of suffering.
As for Maier-Clayton, he continues to plead his case for dying via YouTube videos and written posts on social media. Heartbreakingly, he doesn’t know how much longer he can continue, and is considering taking his own life.
“It’s incredibly surreal,” he told CBC. “At this point in my life, I always thought I’d be on Bay Street or trying to get to Singapore to live in a commerce hub. I personally love life. I don’t want to leave. If I could snap my fingers and all these illnesses could be cured, we wouldn’t be sitting here today.”