Euthanasia is a tricky subject at the best of times, but the debate about it is set to blow up yet again with the news that a man in the Netherlands was allowed to die due to his addiction to alcohol.
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Mark Langedijk’s application for euthanasia was approved by a doctor from the Support and Consultation on Euthanasia in the Netherlands – where the practice has been legal and available for 16 years for those experiencing unbelievable suffering with no chance of improvement. You might think being an alcoholic doesn’t qualify those circumstances, but according to Mark’s brother Marcel it did in his case:
My brother had a “happy childhood” and was loved by both his parents.
He only found out he had an addiction eight years ago.
I was particularly angry at Mark. At first we did what most people do: help.
My parents especially have done everything humanly possible to save Mark.
My parents continued to believe in a happy ending despite eight years of help and 21 stints in rehab, but eventually Mark told his family he wanted to die. We took this news with a grain of salt, but he was serious.
On the day of his death, he laughed, drank, smoked, ate ham and cheese sandwiches and soup with meatballs until the doctor arrived at my parents’ home at 3.15pm.
Mark got into bed and was told to stay calm whilst the doctor explained the procedure to him. We all started crying, my parents, everyone actually, even Mark.
We cried, told each other that we loved each other, that it would be all right, that we would care for each other, that we would see each other again, we held each other.
If it was not so terrible, it would have been nice.
Mark’s eyes turned away, he sighed deeply. His last. Dr Marijke injected the third syringe. His face changed, lost color. My little brother was dead.
You can close your eyes to it and keep telling yourself everyone is curable but the fact remains, not everyone is.
My brother suffered from depression and anxiety and tried to ‘cure’ it with alcohol. He’s from a normal family, he did not want this to happen.
He did not take an easy way out. Just a humane one.
If that’s troubling for people then that’s a pity. I am just glad my brother did not have to jump in front of a train or live a few more years in agony before dying of his abuse.
Alcoholism and depression are illnesses, just like cancer. People who suffer from it need a humane way out.
It’s not like we go around killing people in Holland. It took my brother a year and a half and many struggles to get it done.
That’s wonderfully poignant but also pretty upsetting and sad. I suppose alcoholics probably kill themselves all the time though because of their problem so the fact that he was allowed to do it this way is something to take from this.
I doubt it’s going to change anyone’s opinions about the practice though and is probably only going to make it even more more controversial. So it goes.
Did you hear about the initiative that pays alcoholics in beer to pick up trash in Amsterdam? That shouldn’t be controversial at all.