Recovery is possible from daily thoughts of suicide: Derek Kerr

18 October 2023

Saskatoon writer Derek Kerr shares his personal journey and calls for change to Canada's expanding law on assisted dying

As someone who suffered in my teens and early 20s from depression and who thought about death and dying almost daily, I am in a unique position to comment on medical assistance in dying. I find it completely abhorrent because it makes choosing death too easy in Canada.

And so I support – and think we all should contact our MPs to encourage their support of – Bill C-314, which would reverse the law allowing medical assistance in dying for people with mental illness alone.

Recovery is still a journey even for me after so many years. My path to recovery hasn’t always been easy because, like most who suffer from mental illness, I’ve had setbacks along the way. But I now live a full and satisfying life with my wife Lt. Angela Kerr and our six beautiful children. I am also a Salvation Army officer. It is a joy and privilege that gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

I am called by God to serve others by making a positive impact in their lives. It is a privilege teaching God’s Word to those I encounter daily and assisting those in desperate need and coming alongside them – even those who are suffering from mental illness and considering ending their own life.

When I was at my lowest point my mother said to me once, “Taking your own life may stop the hurt and pain you’re suffering at this moment, but it will only be the beginning of suffering for those who love and care for you who are left behind.”

1 Peter 5:10 has encouraged me in my journey, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

All people are created in God’s image. Euthanasia and MAiD reject the idea everyone has God-given intrinsic value. Human dignity means our lives are sacred – because God has given our life to us. Our value cannot be removed by action or health condition.

Deciding not to end my own life was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I recently read an article by Mary Wurster (an Ohio university student at the time) who wrote, “The value of human life in all its forms and at all stages is the central theme of the gospel, for it is the very purpose of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. To fail to respect human life at any point mocks the very essence of Christ’s mission to humanity.” I couldn’t have said it better.

My faith alone did not cure my mental illness. However, my faith was very helpful in helping me cope with my illness. There is no specific cure for mental illness, but through a combination of medication and therapy people like me can recover and live long and healthy lives.

Lt. Derek Kerr lives and serves in Saskatoon. Photo of Derek Kerr courtesy Carson Samson.
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