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March 15, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – With the recent moves by Canada’s Parliament to expand its euthanasia program — “Medical Assistance in Dying,” or MAiD — to include people with mental illnesses, a young law graduate, who has suffered from years of suicidal depression, has spoken out against the legislation, warning of the many lives that stand to be needlessly lost.
Last month, the Canadian Senate passed an amended version of Bill C-7, which principally removes the current stipulation for exclusive use of MAiD for those whose natural deaths are “reasonably foreseeable,” opening the door to non-terminal patients. The amended bill also expands who is eligible under the country’s euthanasia initiative to include anyone whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. Following a two-year “sunset clause” such individuals will be permitted to be euthanized.
The amended bill was handed back to the House of Commons, which approved the changes last week by a vote of 180-149, meaning the Senate now has until the end of March to either amend further, or accept Bill C-7, writing it into law.
The “sunset clause” will not apply to the permission currently in law whereby individuals with neurocognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s are given access to MAiD in advance, before they “lose the capacity” to consent.
In a video statement, 25-year-old Garifalia Milousis candidly relates her own tortured experience with mental illness, in the form of depression. She tells of the numerous occasions, starting at 14 years of age, that her struggle gave rise to increasingly harmful behaviors: from anorexia and bulimia to attempts at taking her own life.
“It was on the seventh [suicide] attempt that I got the closest, and it was then that I realized that, in wanting to end my suffering, I might actually do something final,” she said.
Continuing, Milousis added that, “To be honest, if medically assisted suicide had been available when I was in university, I might have used it to end my suffering as soon as I could.”
Given her own experience, Milousis expressed fear “that doctors could soon be able to end the lives of people suffering with mental illness — people like me.” She explained that she didn’t understand her illness as a teenager, or how to properly cope with it. She subsequently criticized the politicians who “talk about safeguards that exist to protect vulnerable people from accessing medically assisted death,” claiming instead that many years of “pretending to be okay” means the “proposed safeguards will not protect or save me,” and others like her.
As an example, she observed that some people suffering with a mental illness will, in “moments of crisis,” seek to self-harm, or commit suicide, and will even “thank you for making it possible for them to die.”
“But this is the problem,” she added. “Because in two years, in four years, that same person will not thank you.”
Milousis shared some of the long-term effects of having attempted suicide herself, including having to hide her arms by wearing long-sleeve shirts: “I wasn’t thinking about what it would mean for me to have scars everywhere … I wasn’t planning on living that long.”
Despite overcoming her depression and surviving suicide attempts, “There are still highs and lows, and the things I’ve considered and tried do come back to me,” admitted Milousis. It is precisely on this account that she fears the expansion of Canada’s euthanasia law and seeks to warn others of its far-reaching effects, which “would qualify me for medically assisted death, and put me at risk.”
“Had someone been willing to assist my suicide during one of those lows, I know the life I’ve lived would not have happened. I didn’t try to kill myself because I wanted to die; I tried to kill myself as a last-ditch effort to end my suffering.”
“And when I’m in a headspace like that, I’m already fighting internally … I need someone to be my advocate in those times. That’s what suicide prevention is for,” she said.
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Milousis admitted that “[d]eath would have been a way out,” but exhorted “to whoever needs to hear this: Death doesn’t have to be the answer.” She explained that, to overcome a mental illness like depression, it “takes work. It takes time. It takes others.” And that, even after overcoming depression, for her, “still, the struggles with mental health remain.”
“But there is hope,” she said. “Now I’m excited about my future, I’m preparing to marry my best friend, and I can’t wait for us to start our lives together.” Milousis said she is sharing her story to inspire others in similar situations because “I’m not the only one who has more to live for. There are people in your life who do too.”
“As someone who struggles with mental illness, I don’t need someone to tell me how to die,” she said, “I need someone to tell me to stay.”