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Is mercy killing a good idea?

Wednesday, 02 January 2008
Answered by: Dr. Ashu R. Gandhi
Consultant Psychiatrist
Adult Mental Health Program, Eastern Health
Australia
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Q. I have a 23 years old daughter who is mentally retarded since birth. I have consulted various doctors, astrologers and experts but nothing seems to help. She is perpetually shouting and crying. And behaves irrationally in front of my friends and relatives. I find this very embarrassing. Would it be right to kill her on mercy? I am very fond of her and feel sorry for her condition. But I can't tolerate her behaviour. My relatives want me to kill her, but I can't gather myself to do that. Please help.

A.  I can notice that you are quite burnt out because of your daughters problems and also seem to be frustrated, angry and also at the end of your tether, that you have started thinking of committing a crime - taking away a life. The answer is NO. Be it ethically, morally, legally, psychologically or otherwise, it is wrong to do this. You can definitely help her and yourself cope with it better. Firstly, you need to take adequate help from a psychiatrist to help you cope personally. Then, you need to take help from a behavioural therapist or a clinical psychologist to help modify your daughters behaviour to what ever extent it can be tried. It might be a slow process but I am sure you would benefit by visiting a psychiatrist who can prescribe some medications to control her behaviour. It might be useful to visit NIMHANS at Bangalore with a few weeks to spare to get expert advice from the psychiatrists there. Do not lose hope.

A.  I can notice that you are quite burnt out because of your daughters problems and also seem to be frustrated, angry and also at the end of your tether, that you have started thinking of committing a crime - taking away a life. The answer is NO. Be it ethically, morally, legally, psychologically or otherwise, it is wrong to do this. You can definitely help her and yourself cope with it better. Firstly, you need to take adequate help from a psychiatrist to help you cope personally. Then, you need to take help from a behavioural therapist or a clinical psychologist to help modify your daughters behaviour to what ever extent it can be tried. It might be a slow process but I am sure you would benefit by visiting a psychiatrist who can prescribe some medications to control her behaviour. It might be useful to visit NIMHANS at Bangalore with a few weeks to spare to get expert advice from the psychiatrists there. Do not lose hope.

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