Let My Ten Year Old Die
OPINION 10/06/2039 7:17 AM ET
Let My Ten Year Old Die

Sharon Smith
Mother, wife, talking out loud

CC0 1.0 Image by Skitterphoto | Writer image: CC BY 4.0 Miriam face black and white 2 by Mike, Horz, FlickreviewR | Images were cropped. Images used for illustration purposes only.
A child's loneliness can lead to a mother's most difficult decision.
My little boy was born an angel. He had beautiful, yellow-white hair, thin strands which clung to his scalp as though embracing him in loving arms. We named him Jeremy.

When he was two we began to suspect something was wrong. He didn't have the same energy levels as other boys. He ran around, but always wanted to sit down before long.

At five, we had repeated interventions with his teacher due to his low attention span, sleepiness in class, and tendency to throw tantrums. We ended up homeschooling our little boy.

We knew at age seven, when he began to withdraw socially, that something was seriously wrong. We took him to doctors and multiple mental health professionals. We had a full workup done on him on multiple occasions. I would stroke his hair, while blood was taken from him. Tubes would stick out of his little body. It broke my heart to witness it. His daddy doesn't talk about it.

At eight he was put on medication. The best doctors could come up with was depression, which felt...off. Jeremy has peaks of energy, creativity and happiness, and then valleys, where he doesn't want to be around anyone. He simply sits in his room.

The medication has not provided any help, except to make him more irritable during his "low" times.

We have asked Jeremy carefully about his identity. Does he like dresses? Did he feel like being a tiger today? Does he want to not see anymore? Each time the answer came back: no, no, no.

Then we asked the one question we feared most. Did he want to be alive?

"I guess not," he said. My heart broke.

Over the next year we asked him carefully again and again if he wanted to be alive. His answers became firmer. No. Did he know what it meant to not be alive? We explained it to him as best we could. He understands. He doesn't want to be alive anymore.

We took him to doctors, again and again, to seek assistance. Under federal law, to pursue an authority for assisted dying for someone under your care, you need 100 points. For a child under 18, you need 120 points. Depression counts as fifty. Since doctors do not have another diagnosis, he remains seventy points short.

The past year has been hell, as we have travelled the country seeking help from any doctor who would listen, to try to see our angel-haired boy through to a dignified death.

My husband and I have been mocked, castigated, accused of being terrible parents, of neglecting our basic parental responsibilities. A few months ago, Dan and I had to separate because of the strain. We are trying to work things out but divorce looks more likely.

The law as it stands is blatantly discriminatory towards children, and those without a definitive diagnosis. In demanding a diagnosis as opposed to validation of symptoms the law is skewed toward those for whom science has already termed the disease. What my child has cannot yet be termed. Why must he suffer because medicine cannot yet label his illness?

In the meantime, his dignity continues to be harmed, his personhood violated, by a law which has sent us all over the country to seek an end for our son. Violence is done upon him every day he is forced to live. Each day he asks me when he can die, and each day I don't have an answer for him.

This blatantly childphobic law needs to be immediately changed, to accommodate the smallest of us, and their parents, and to reflect that not all illnesses have yet been categorized.

Please Washington, let my little boy die.
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