News from Australia : Andrew Denton's podcast series "Better Off Dead" about euthanasia.
Andrew Denton is widely recognised as one of Australian media's genuinely creative forces.
Being interviewed by Andrew Denton.
On 23 July 2015, at home here in Belgium, I had the visit of Andrew Denton, an interviewer renowned in Australia for his integrity and humanity when talking about such sensitive but important things.
How did I met with Andrew Denton?
Andrew Denton interviewed Dr. Lieve Thienpont for an Australian major series on euthanasia. Dr. Lieve Thienpont is a deep thinker and a humane person and she suggested he interview me about my experience with Belgium's euthanasia law. As he understood, my daughter Edith, requested euthanasia. And sadly, later committed suicide, alone in her room within a psychiatric institution.
I agreed being interviewed. For about 45 minutes, on 2 o'clock, 23 July 2015, audio only - for podcast - not television.
It happened and after this interview I felt better. Freed from a burden. Andrew Denton is indeed upright, honest and human. Speaking with him about Edith awakened a sorrow I tried to live with. But on the other hand helped me formulate what was buried deep somewhere in me.
Many thanks to him to have given me an opportunity to express what my daughter went through. Speaking about persons in psychic sufferings can for sure help other people elsewhere better understand how to behave when confronted to requests for euthanasia or suicide from family members or beloved in psychic sufferings themselves... Writing down what kept me awake the night after this interview about "Euthanasia in cases of extreme psychological suffering: the obstinate refusal by doctors and families to support a patient’s request and the stubborn insistence that the person suffering must stay alive at any cost", gave me a feeling to do what was expected from me to keep Edith alive.
Edith went through a terrific inhuman experience and she deserves everybody to know about what happened to her so as to lesser and lesser young people should be confronted with the same lack of understanding of being different, not fitting in a pre-established inadequate frame.
When confronted to psychological sufferings of others, let us avoid the unconscious self-protection reaction of “Courage, run for your life, every-one for himself, run away…" Let us stop think others will take care of them. Because they’re trained for this. They’re professionals. That’s why they know how to behave. That's their job. No, this behavior is wrong. We all have an individual responsibility. Certainly the one to recognize we have, somewhere in us, a potential to behave the right way when confronted with the incomprehensible psychical sufferings expressed by others. We don’t need to be heavily trained professionals. We have the responsibility to accept that every single human being is unique. That it is impossible to get him in a general frame of what should be recognized as a normal behavior, an acceptable normal suffering. Does being different, not fitting in the limits of the frame, does trying to express this difference so as to be understood why suffering this “abnormality” not fitting in the frame – even if it is difficult for “normal” people to fully understand - constituting grounds, a sound reason to justify being interned and subjected to heavy medications that stifle the last sparkles of personality, the last desperate attempts being listened? We have the responsibility to make efforts to understand what psychical suffering is. Without any a priori. The responsibility to accept that every human being has the right to be different. That this different can be an enrichment for our society. The responsibility not to judge or condemn. Well the responsibility to understand. And, to understand we need to learn how to communicate the right way. Communication to listen is not always natural. This often requires learning and training. Let us learn and train.
Please take the time to listen to / to read a "Libera Me" testimonial of me in which I outline what realistic alternatives listening and communication can offer over suicide. These include either a dignified end of life, in the comforting company of our loved ones, or a decision to resume life, as occurs in more than half of the cases. More than half of the cases, that is far from negligible! Talking about euthanasia is not dangerous. Not talking about it definitely is. Each of us can play an essential role in this ultimate, life-defining choice.
News about Andrew Denton's podcast series. Today, 04 December 2015, Andrew Denton mailed me that he is currently writing the episode for his podcast series about euthanasia which deals with psychiatric cases and the story of Edith. There will be 17 episodes in his podcast series. It is called BETTER OFF DEAD and will be released online in late January. If you are interested, the first episodes are accessible... : "The project - Andrew Denton / Facebook"; "In depth : Andrew Denton and Neil Mitchell talk euthanasia"; "Q&A -Facing Death"...
Edith’s episode will be episode 8 and deals specifically with psychiatric euthanasia in Belgium.
Some sentences from Denton's first episodes came particularly home to me : "Death is complicated"; "People don't want to die"; "By own admission "palliative care" cannot deal with all pain"; "Studies in Australia showed that last year 20% of the patients who died in palliative care died in mortifying pain!"; "Palliative care is the limit of medical science!"; "If the pain and the dying is too much, we should have the choise!"; "It is not because it is hard ... to legiferate about this choice... that we shouldn't do anything about it!"; "It'still entirely your choice if you exercice your right... to euthanasia or not" ...
I advise everyone confronted with euthanasia to take the time to see this podcast series. And maybe why not, to see it once and once again.