Brittany Maynard's story sends the wrong message to young people

Dear Editor:
Will Johnston, MD

I agree with the Gazette editorial board that legal assisted suicide sends the wrong message to young people. ("Vote 'no' on more suicide," 09/26/16). I also write to describe the damaging impact of the highly publicized case of Brittany Maynard, on my young adult patient who became actively suicidal after watching her video. I understand that her story is now being used to promote assisted suicide legalization in Colorado.


Ms. Maynard died in November 2014. A month later, I was presented with my young adult patient during an emergency appointment. He was physically healthy. His mother told me that he had been acting oddly and talking about death.

I asked the young man if he had a plan. He said "yes," that he had watched a video about Ms. Maynard. He said that he was very impressed with her and that he identified with her and that he thought it was a good idea for him to die like her. He also told me that after watching the video he had been surfing the Internet looking for ways to obtain suicide drugs.

He was actively suicidal and agreed to go to the hospital, where he stayed for five weeks until it was determined that he was sufficiently safe from self-harm to go home.

It is well known that suicide is contagious.

Thank you for your editorial.

Will Johnston MD
Vancouver BC, Canada