April 13, 2024

Euthanasia for unbearable mental suffering in Belgium

Euthanasia in Belgium is an increasingly popular subject for documentaries. The latest comes from Dateline, a program of Australia’s SBS network. (See the video below). Journalist Brett Mason interviews several people who have featured in BioEdge reports over the years. But the main focus is on Simona, an 85-year-old woman whose only reason for requesting death is grief over the sudden death of a beloved daughter.

“It was, without question, the most difficult day I’ve had as a journalist,” he told Daily Mail Australia. “As a foreign correspondent, I’ve seen a lot of people dying. I’ve witnessed a lot of final moments. All of those people, I remember very clearly, didn’t want to die. They had something to live for, something they feared losing.

“What I struggled with most, was that despite being in near perfect physical health, Simona believed she had nothing and no one in her life worth living for,” he said.

Simona is adamant that she wants to die. “I don’t have to justify myself to anyone,” she says defiantly. However, it seems like a pretty miserable way to depart. A doctor, a friend, a nurse, a journalist and a cameraman at her bedside – no relatives. She drinks a lethal dose, asks to put her feet up and dies. It is a scene which will make anyone ask whether Belgian doctors understand what compassion for the vulnerable, the disabled and the elderly means. 

Michael Cook
SBS films death of grief-stricken woman.