The Windsor Star

Brian Cross

Adam Maier-Clayton is shown in this photo from Facebook.

All of Adam Maier-Clayton’s activism — pushing for the right of severely mentally ill people like himself to die with the help of a doctor — was intended to help others, his mourning father says.

“My son suffered thousands of hours of agonizing pain and he had enough, he couldn’t take any more,” Graham Clayton said Friday as he described his 27-year-old son’s horrible misery from his mental disorders and his determined year-long campaign to convince the public that medical assistance in death (MAID) should be his right.

“My son was mentally strong, very alert, very rational, very calculating, very focused and very physically strong,” his father said. “And it was too much for him.”

In one of his many videos posted on utube, Maier-Clayton said if he ever kills himself, no one should react by saying, “Oh my God, if only he had just a little more help,” or he should have tried a certain treatment.

“No, stop it,” he declared in the video. “I did what was right for me.”

He checked into a Windsor hotel early in the morning of April 13, and took a medication intended to end his life, Clayton said. He and Maier-Clayton’s mother, Maggie Maier, were notified by police of their son’s death, and Clayton later found emails written to the two of them, in which their son urged them to remember him, to keep going with his message, but to not let it wreck them.

In his final Facebook post, at 7:53 a.m. on April 13, he wrote: “I am my own saviour. Always have been, always will be.”

Maier-Clayton’s illnesses included generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depressive disorder, depersonalization disorder and psychosomatic pain that was “just horrible,” a burning in his eyes, head, biceps, chest and elsewhereHe and his father said they tried everything — including medications, counselling and experimental treatments — but nothing worked.

“I believe someone in my position has the right to a doctor-assisted death,” Maier-Clayton said. “If this isn’t going to stop, I’m surely not going to stick around and endure it.”

His father said he used to have a sign hanging in his office that said Never Give Up.

“I took it off the wall because how much pain care people supposed to endure waiting for a miracle? And we weren’t just waiting passively. We were searching for it, looking for it.”

Maier-Clayton, whose funeral service was scheduled for Saturday, made national headlines with his plea that people with severe mental illness be allowed MAID, following the passage last year of Bill C-14. The bill only allows MAID if death is reasonably foreseeable, shutting out people with severe mental illness. That’s contrary to the landmark Supreme Court Carter decision on MAID, according to Shanaaz Gokool, CEO of Dying with Dignity.

“They were very clear, they didn’t distinguish between physical and psychological suffering. In fact, they said psychological suffering should be included.”

Maier-Clayton, she said, was a handsome, bright, articulate young man who didn’t look sick. So when he talked publicly about needing a doctor-assisted death, it made us uncomfortable.

“These are issues that are sensitive, that are emotional and they should be,” she said. “But at the end of the day, the goal has to be it’s not acceptable to tell someone: ‘Your suffering, if it’s psychological or psychiatric, isn’t as real as someone with physical suffering.’”

But how can you prove it when someone is experiencing severe mental suffering, asked Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. “And how do you know they can’t be helped?”

His organization is opposed to all doctor-assisted death, “that we’re actually abandoning people, we’re not helping them,” he said. “And this (allowing it for severely mentally ill people) is even a greater level of abandonment.”