When Brittany Maynard killed herself last year in an assisted suicide in Oregon, she had been discussing making such a decision for months leading up to her eventual suicide. But the day before she killed herself with the lethal cocktail, Maynard said it wasn’t the right time to end her life.
The fact that she ultimately took her own life the next day, just 24 hours after saying she wasn’t really ready, is still one of the most perplexing twists in the saga surrounding her life and death.
Now, a psychologist who is affiliated with a group working to stop a bill in the legislature in California, Maynard’s home state, from legalizing assisted suicide, is asking some serious question about whether Maynard may have been pressured by her family to commit suicide before she was truly prepared to do so.
Psychologist Dr. Mark Hoffman, PhD is affiliated with a California-based group of vulnerable seniors who, he says, are demanding to know what really happened with Brittany Maynard.
“In the most public suicide of modern history, a mysterious event took place which was never explained nor investigated. The current laws in Oregon do not allow for such investigations,” he explained.
Hoffman, of California Seniors Against Suicide, points out that, after months of media manipulation and promises of a November 1 suicide date, Brittany Maynard stunned the world when she proclaimed on Oct. 31 that she would not kill herself on Nov 1. She had rethought the circumstances, saying “I’ve decided it’s just not the right time.”
“Nevertheless, the next day the family simply announced that she was dead. The schedule was simply followed,” he says. “But what happened? Who was counseling her? How did that counseling go? What pressures did she feel to get back on schedule? She changed her mind and decided to live, but something or someone intervened in that new commitment.”
“As seniors we are well aware that family members and many others with a ‘vested interest’ can give the wrong emotional advice, often even subconsciously manipulating a dependent patient,” Hoffman said. “Those others may not be financial heirs – though very often they are – just the relief of having the ‘burdens of the patient’ off of their hands can be VERY compelling for some third parties. Elder abuse and subtle patient coercion are not uncommon even under current law, and the laws are there specifically to guard against manipulated decisions.”
“At the very least,’ said Hoffman, “The facts clearly tell us that Brittany’s decision was NOT firm. She was clearly emotionally torn and uncertain, and she proclaimed that to the world.”