Depression, Suicide and Assisted Suicide

In the November 2002 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle report that depression is common among patients with MS and tends to worsen as the severity of the illness increases.

Aside from Cancer, you may remember that MS was the leading diagnosis found among 130+ people Dr. Jack Kevorkian "assisted-to-death." Extremely unsettling, the assisted suicide rate for his patients with MS is much greater than other far more commonly diagnosed and yet comparatively devastating neurological disorders (such as Stroke, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease). How can this be true?

The answer is clear to me; physicians claim that about 54% of all people diagnosed with MS experience a serious depression during their illness. There is evidence that depression can be the presenting symptom in MS, and some studies have suggested that depression reported by MS patients might be directly related to damage within certain parts of the brain. To make matters worse, depression can be a side effect of many MS medications. Definitely most unsettling, people with MS have a seven-fold increased risk of suicide.

Regardless of what causes depression, physical hardship is not always associated with depression. In Charles Dickens' story "A Christmas Carol." Tiny Tim was not depressed. In fact, it was Ebenezer Scrooge, who enjoyed every material comfort, who complained bitterly about happiness and hope in others.

Depression is a real illness entirely separate from and at times associated with other forms of disease--it claims friends and family members each year who by themselves, for whatever reasons, lose hope and end their lives. Obviously, there is a real danger to supporting the euthanasia & assisted suicide movement.

We do not end a loved one's life to alleviate the suffering that comes from depression. We should not end a loved one's life to alleviate the suffering that comes from depression associated with a physical and/or cognitive disability--regardless of whether that depression occurs within our loved ones, within ourselves or both. Our definition of "disease" must include anything that is opposed to life itself--including the practice of euthanasia & assisted suicide.

People who try their best to alleviate suffering within themselves and others through love and their willingness to take part in another person's suffering without acting to end that person's life--they are the true heroes among us. They are the strength, our true angels of mercy. And, they are the true healers within our society.










Saint Sebastian

He entered the list knowing that not all battles are visible to human eyes.

Explain this: 1 in 4 people get cancer at some point in their life. The annual incidence for MS is 1 in 50,000. Why is MS (what is generally a non-life ending infrequent diagnosis) so prevalent among Jack Kevorkian's Assisted Suicide patients? The answer is Depression. In addition to causing physical and cognitive problems, MS directly initiates damage to the brain that at times likely causes severe depression.


This Holiday Season a friend of mine was asked by her seven-year-old disabled son Aron, "Mom, tell me the truth, why am I in a chair? Why am I the one who has to be in a wheelchair and not walk?" She explained to him "I told you the truth, you have Cerebral Palsy (CP) and that part of your body was the most affected." He nodded, "I know that part, but tell me the truth. Why is it me?"

When she asked what I would say to him, I did not know, but I gave her some words that this thirty-two year old man repeats to himself everyday--that I am a soldier, that I am on a mission, that my mission is to NOT be afraid, to not be angry. I have those orders from my superior officer, and that presence tells me that I have been given all that I need. War is tough! The mission does not seem possible at times, but I am a soldier and I will not let my commander and my fellow soldiers down who fight along side of me. What I must remember is that I am not alone, and that I have won many battles. I expect to win the War. No, doubt! No, fear. Most of the people who appear to have an easier life in comparison to my own oftentimes do not even see the enemy that I am fighting. They are more like citizens who stay at home (maybe give support), but they are not on the frontline. Not yet anyway! I am the soldiers. I am fighting the enemy for them. It is an honor that I have been given the chance to fight like a soldier--along side friends who have helped me to understand the enemy. Not everyone is a soldier, and not everyone sees the enemy. But, I see the enemy, I have my orders, and I am not afraid.

Another friend asked me, "What if your dog was sick--your fellow soldier? We euthanize our dogs. Isn't that love? Isn't that mercy?" I told him that I have a special relationship with my dog. I could never kill "Sophie." She is my service dog--much as a seeing-eye dog is to the blind--Sophie has spent every moment of every day over the past two years helping me. She has allowed me to live a richer life, and assists me in more ways than I was until recently even able to admit. Regardless, the more important question to ask is not whether I would kill my dog to alleviate her suffering, but would my dog kill me? My dog "Sophie" knows what love, protection and mercy are in relationship to Chris, myself and our family instinctually. She would never harm us to alleviate our suffering. She would stand by us to the end, unquestionably. Dr. Jack Kevorkian and Derek Humphry do not practice love, protection and mercy. Instead, they prey on emotionally weakened families and physically ill people. They are not soldiers. And, they are not medics. They share the same goal as the enemy--suicide is a terminal disease. Dogs do not commit suicide. As long as they feel loved by their masters and are able to express their own love, they are seldom depressed. Tragically, in War our finest soldiers are sometimes caught under friendly fire and killed. I pray that Sophie is never killed under my own friendly fire. She has been a good soldier and a true friend, and deserves much better. I will never quit on her.

Written by
Brett Curtis Weber Ph.D.

In science, we never know when or exactly from where the next great discovery will come. Depression is a disease that many people have experienced. Only 1 in 50,000 people are diagnosed with MS anually--and only 6-10% of those 1 in 50,000 people are diagnosed with my form of the disease--progressive-relapsing MS (a sub-type of Primary Progressive MS). Please, consider a pledge and/or charitable donation to the National MS Society.


1-800-Fight MS (1-800-344-4867)


"Dogs began life of domestication as slaves rather than allies, and the warm relationship that has since developed--and indeed was in existence in early dynastic times in Egypt-- developed gradually, together with mutual understanding and regard. It is a truism to say that the dog is largely what his master makes of him: he can be savage and dangerous, untrustworthy, cringing, and fearful; or he can be faithful and loyal, courageous, and the best of companions and allies." - R. Fiennes and A. Fiennes, The Natural History of the Dog

"A German Shepherd Dog stands by his master in prosperity and in poverty, in sickness as well as in good health. He will sleep on the ground where the winds blow cold and the snow drives fiercely, if only to be by his master's side. He will kiss the hands that have no food to offer and lick the wounds and sores that come with the sharp unkindness of this world. He will guard the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert him, as you know they will, he will remain. When riches take wing and reputations fall to pieces, he is as constant as the sun. And if misfortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world friendless and alone, he asks no greater privilege than to accompany his master and stand guard against his enemies. And, when his master has taken his last step and lies cold on the ground; there by his gravesite tirelessly defending can this noble friend be found. His head between his paws, his eyes sad but alert, faithful and true even in death. There you will find my German Shepherd Dog." - Author Unknown

1-800-Fight MS (1-800-344-4867)


Please read The Healing Art of Creativity before visiting the gallery
And, read the MS Society's position statement on assisted suicide. Take a political stand with us!

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