After son’s suicide, father pushes for assisted dying for mentally ill – Windsor

After his 27-year-old son’s suicide, Graham Clayton has vowed to push for changes to the country’s doctor-assisted dying laws in order to prevent other Canadians from having to take their own lives.

Adam Maier-Clayton of Windsor, Ont. fought for years to raise awareness about what he saw as a need for assisted dying for anyone with the severe health issues like his. 

Battling mood disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder since he was a child — conditions he said caused pain that felt like “being burned with acid” — Maier-Clayton pushed to have mental illness included in assisted dying laws.

He was unsuccessful. He died by suicide April 13 after leaving his home to go to a hotel room. 

Adam Maier-Clayton lobbied to have the federal government legalize doctor-assisted dying for the mentally ill. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

Since his death, Maier-Clayton’s message has been amplified with people who support his cause, according to his father, who has vowed to continue his son’s battle.

“I’m going to reach out to a lot of his friends. I’m going to work with the media,” Clayton said. “I’m going to try and mobilize other people to get active in this. There’s too many people sitting on their hands.” 

Canada’s assisted-dying legislation does not apply to patients with mental illness. The legislation “allows for safe and consistent access to medical assistance in dying for mentally competent adults who are suffering unbearably, are in an advanced state of irreversible decline, and whose natural deaths have become reasonably foreseeable,” said Health Canada in a statement.

‘It wasn’t all for nothing’

As Clayton prepares for his son’s funeral Saturday, he said he’s already receiving dozens of messages from people across the country and around the world, showing support to change the laws that are not even a year old yet.

Feeling distressed, depressed or suicidal? Help is available. 
1) Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare operates a 24-hour crisis line: (519) 973-4435. For more information on the warning signs of suicide, visit their website.
2) The Distress Centre of Windsor and Essex County is open from noon to midnight 365 days a year and provides emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention. Contact them at 519-256-5000.

​”He would have been pleased it wasn’t all for nothing,” Clayton said. 

The government told CBC News it has no plans to review the eligibility criterion for assisted-dying laws.

“The legislation was carefully designed with safeguards to affirm and protect the inherent and equal value of every person’s life, and to avoid encouraging negative perceptions of the quality of life of persons who are elderly, ill or disabled,” according to the statement.

Late last year, as part of the assisted dying legislation enacted June 20, the government started work on an independent review to look at issues like mental illness. These reviews will be conducted by the Council of Canadian Academies…

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