Last week, The Asian Pacific Post published Gillian Bennett's suicide note.
The Bowen Island resident who had been suffering from dementia for three years recently ended her life by taking a lethal dose of barbiturates.
In her final letter, she wrote: "Understand that I am giving up nothing that I want by committing suicide. All I lose is an indefinite number of years of being a vegetable in a hospital setting, eating up the country's money but having not the faintest idea of who I am."
"Each of us is born uniquely and dies uniquely. I think of dying as a final adventure with a predictably abrupt end. I know when it's time to leave and I do not find it scary."
Our readers contributed a number of letters in response to this story.
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It is time that we are able to decide for ourselves what our fate is when we become ill. I worked with Hospice and saw the suffering and how much it affected the caregivers. Let us leave with dignity when WE decide not the people who have never worked in Palliative and do not understand how undignified, and sometimes painful, the end can be. We are adults and can decide for ourselves when we have had enough and it is time to exit.
– June O'Donnell
Hope I won't ever end up in care. My only neighbour dropped dead aged 81 recently. I think it was a great way to go.
– Marie Fogarty
This suicide note is being described as beautiful and poetic, but I find it appalling that someone who had so much to offer chose to deny those gifts to the world and those around her. With support, she might have offered us so much more.
– Paul Schratz
This is scary. She was a great writer obviously. #1, Canada would largely not be bearing the burden of her illness. My grandmother lives in a care facility and has dementia and pays for it herself with all the hard earned money. This woman is full of pride. If her husband would have truly loved her he would never have left her side for too long and would have encouraged her to stay. The pain she has now caused her family and friends with her absence is selfish. She didn't believe she had a soul. If she did, it would have been different, I hope.
— Deanna Bangura
I am stunned by the poignant, courageous, and thoughtful words in Gillian final letter. May she rest in peace and may her family find great solace in her words.
– Elizabeth Bonner
Thou Shalt not kill----------------------! Family and friend failed!
– Raju Charles
Very moving and brave words and actions
– Alan Hill