Liefs, Melissa

The documentary ‘Liefs, Melissa’ tells us about Melissa, a young woman struggling with depression and borderline, a mental disorder.

After more than ten years of therapy, heavy medication and living in institutions, Melissa was convinced she could only find the peace and quiet which she so badly needed in death. But finding a humane way of suicide turned out to be a struggle all on its own.

The World Health Organization estimates that every year about a million people die by suicide. In the past 45 years suicide rates have gone up about 60%. Despite all the regulations we have in the Netherlands, suicide and assisting suicide are still an unsolved political issue. Because the lack of regulation on (physician-)assisted suicide it often happens that people see no other way out except a violent one. A physician asked by a patient to assist during suicide is committing a criminal offense unless he follows the ‘demands concerning meticulousness’, which includes judging the physical and mental suffering of the patient. This suffering has to be ‘hopeless and unbearable’ before the physician is legally allowed to facilitate the voluntary death. But when exactly is suffering ‘hopeless and unbearable’ and is it even possible to judge someone else’s suffering?

After Melissa’s several requests for a physician-assisted suicide were turned down, Melissa took her own life in November 2009, at the age of 27.