WINDSOR, Ont. — A Canadian man who struggles with dissociative depersonalization disorder, mood disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, and who says he suffers debilitating pain, is seeking the right to die and is expressing his objection that a newly-passed assisted suicide law does not allow those with mental illness to end their life.
“Non-existence is better than this,” Adam Maier-Clayton, 27, told CBC News. “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.”
As previously reported, earlier this year, lawmakers in Canada approved C-14, which “recognizes the autonomy of persons who have a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes them enduring and intolerable suffering,” and allows them to seek out medical assistance to end their lives.
Maier-Clayton, an atheist who says that he is willing to “take his chances” with eternity, says that the bill should include those such as himself who suffer with mental illness.
“I am determined to stay alive long enough to make a serious contribution in showing Canada’s federal government why excluding sufferers of refractory mental illness from Bill C-14 is both heartless and inhumane,” he recently posted to social media. “Though, unfortunately my activism will be short lived as I am certain that 2017 will host the day of my rational suicide. If not sooner, only time will tell.”
Maier-Clayton states that his pain feels like his body is being burned with acid from his brain out to his eyes, chest and arms, and that the pain is exacerbated when trying to read or speak.
“I can’t get through three pages of a book,” he told reporters. “Just to get through the first two would leave me with six hours of pain. I can’t read, I can’t write.”
Doctors have yet to pinpoint the cause of his psychosomatic pain, and medications have not been successful. Maier-Clayton, a business graduate whose condition worsened while in college, feels that unless something changes, he would rather end his life.
“I’m not afraid of death,” he told reporters. “I could kill myself if I wanted to, but it’s not just about me. It’s about all these other people, too.”
However, some state that Maier-Clayton should not seek out suicide, but should rather keep fighting to regain his life.
“Adam, don’t do it! You apparently have not been well looked after,” wrote Dr. Edward Shorter, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto whose study interests include psychosomatic illness. “While one cannot make a definitive diagnosis of Adam’s plight owing to the lack of detail, there are medical illnesses he could have that might produce all this pain, though much of it is mental in nature (yet nonetheless real). If he turned out to have such an illness he could be treated for it and given back his life.”
He opined that Maier-Clayton could indeed be dealing with psychotic depression and needs the proper care.
“He believes that he is not depressed, based on the fact that ‘I don’t hate myself.’ But that doesn’t rule out depression. What steers the observer towards psychotic depression is this pain theme. He’s enveloped in it,” Shorter explained. “This sheer cheerlessness—called anhedonia—is another characteristic of serious depression: the annihilating hopelessness these patients experience. There is no source of joy—no sunray of happiness—left in life. It seems like a miserable plod to what they hope will be a quick end.”
He said that he is concerned that Maier-Clayton could pave the way for psychiatric patients to legally kill themselves.
“For sure, many of these patients want to kill themselves—and some do. But when they’ve been successfully treated and are back to their families, their jobs, their dogs and their sports careers, they recognize psychiatric euthanasia as a profound waste of life and a shocking breach of medical ethics,” Shorter stated.