Assisted dying has been a hotly contested topic for many states deciding whether it’s moral, but what they should really be considering is the mental health of many patients who are awaiting their unavoidable fates, struggling even more day by day to get joy out of life.

There are currently six states as well as Washington, D.C. that have “Death with Dignity” laws. These laws fall under the idea that terminally ill people that are mentally competent should be able to make their own end-of-life decisions. People who are allowed to apply this law must have six or fewer months to live, so they can speed up the process without causing themselves or their loved ones too much pain.

This law could especially be beneficial to people struggling with an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. Alzheimer’s is a disease that progresses slowly over the course of a couple years, continuously deteriorating the mind until the person is no longer able to function. Since there is no way to treat the disease, a person at the beginning stages of the disease could go out the way they want to; making good memories surrounded by friends and family, rather than being a burden to them in the future. However, with the six-month rule in place in the states that made assisted suicide legal, it means that many Alzheimer’s patients at the beginning stages of the disease cannot choose this option.

Not all people who would benefit from the “Death with Dignity” laws are terminally ill. Some people who prefer assisted dying are in declining mental health and are not happy with their current or future states. For example, David Goodall, a 104-year-old from Australia, was not suffering from a terminal illness but was given the news that he would require round-the-clock care in the near future. He felt like he has lived all the good years he had left and no longer enjoyed life. Goodall claimed that he should have “full citizenship rights, including the right of assisted suicide.” The government should take this into account before they attempt to take away the basic right to make independent decisions that everyone deserves.

Methods like this also provide families a little more solace since it will be predictable and they will have a chance to say their goodbyes. Research shows that families of people who chose aid in dying reported that they felt more prepared and accepting of the death. While many patients choose this form of death because they want control of how they die, they also worry about how their families will fare after they are gone. With these new findings, they won’t have to worry about doing what they think is best for them.

While assisted dying is still illegal in Ohio, an October 2018 survey shows that 87 percent of Ohioans support a patient’s right to die and 75 percent support Death with Dignity laws. Hopefully with the amount of general support apparent in Ohio, a law will pass that will give patients the right to make decisions on their own behalf. Until then, patients will have to find other ways to deal with the consequences of terminal illness diagnoses.

Charlotte Caldwell is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Charlotte? Email her at cc670717@ohio.edu

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