Suicide vs Euthanasia – don’t tell me I don’t understand!
Mel Taylor | Family First

Mel Taylor | Family First

You know how you can be in a great mood, until suddenly you come across an old photo. Then all the memories and emotions come flooding back. Well, that happened to me the other night. I found a family photo taken just over 10 years ago. There we all were. Now some of us are forever gone.

Nine years ago, my Mum committed suicide. I remember every heart-breaking part of the whole incident. She had been unwell for a while, and we had been struggling with a failing mental health system. That phone call from my Dad telling me that Mum had taken her own life turned my world upside down. I was pregnant, and the thought of my baby never meeting his grandmother deeply saddened me. As it was, I had a little cry the day he was born, because I couldn’t share the beautiful and special day with my Mum.

Not long after, I lost my Grandfather. I adored him. He was my hero. I was torn at the thought of him being so sad when he passed, having buried his daughter not long before. We had five family members die that year. Some unexpected, some not so much. All their deaths impacting our lives one way or another. I have also had the honour and privilege of caring for two people (family and extended family) in their last stage of cancer. They died peacefully and with dignity, surrounded by love. They were cared for and comfortable until their very last breath.

As you could well imagine, I am zealous to reduce our appalling suicide rates. I know, from a first-hand ordeal, just how the suicide of a loved one can affect so many people. The ripple effect is massive. I am also a huge advocate against euthanasia. It’s frightening to have lost someone, who in years to come could have well become a victim of euthanasia.

After all, how many of you can relate to being in a dark ‘head space’ at least once in your life? Feeling fed up or suffering from anxiety or depression? Euthanasia has been implemented overseas. In Oregon, 1 in 6 patients who receive a prescription for lethal drugs have clinical depression. In Belgium, those euthanised included deaf 45-year-old twins who were going blind, a 44 year old woman with chronic anorexia nervosa and a 64 year old woman with chronic depression who was euthanised without her family knowing. These people did not need to be put to death, they needed help.

To think that my Mum could have been another one of these euthanasia statistics, had it been legal, frightens me. As it was, she died when we all wanted her to live, when we were desperately seeking mental health help for her. The thought of having medical professionals assist in her death had euthanasia been available sickens me to the core.

I find it so ironic that among newspaper articles there is a title such as ‘Euthanasia and suicide are two very different things’ (Nov 3rd, 2017) and at the end of the article is a note, ‘Where to get help’. New Zealanders really aren’t naïve enough to think that if euthanasia is implemented here, that we won’t head down the same slippery slope as so many other countries. That is why over 90% of submissions made, were against euthanasia.

Politicians need to listen to and take heed of all the warnings and concerns people have shared in their submissions.  Rather than implementing euthanasia, we need to invest in increased funding and resources for palliative care and mental health.

That is what will further help those hurting and struggling.

We are a caring, helpful nation, and we must protect the vulnerable.

Mel Taylor is a Specialist Caregiver, who along with her husband, takes on high at-risk and behavioural teen boys to live in their family home. Mel has cared for over 400 youth, and has been caregiving for over 17 years. Mel is the Spokesperson for New Zealand’s Family First on youth issues.

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