Letting You Go

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3 min read

This film presents the painful reality of those who have to struggle with mental disease every day. Most of the times medications have little to no effect and the patients are left hanging on to sanity by the fingernails. After years of having to do this, most become exhausted to the point of seeking relief in death.

However, suicide can have a long lasting traumatic effect on those left behind. Millions of unanswered questions flood the minds of the survivors along with a deep sense of guilt because they ‘should have done more’ or they ‘should have seen the signs’.

Physician-assisted suicide for those suffering from chronic mental illness offers a different experience and perspective. It’s legal in The Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland, even though it continues to be one of the most controversial points in the ongoing debate about a person’s right to choose death.

Dutch director Kim Faber takes a look at the raw pain of a father who resolved to stand by his 27-year-old daughter after she made the difficult decision to end her life.

Sanne was a beautiful young woman who had suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder, chronic depression, and insomnia for many years. After almost a decade of intense treatment with no positive results, she decided she’d had enough and wasn’t interested in living any more. Sanne was tired of watching herself change into somebody she was not. She wasn’t willing to continue deteriorating to the point of not being able to recognize herself. In her own words, she didn’t feel like there was much of a bright future waiting for her. In choosing assisted suicide, Sanne also wanted to give her loved ones the opportunity to deal with her departure in a less distressing way.

Her heartbreaking attempt to free herself from her misery was not easy on her dad. He loved her deeply, but he also understood how much she was hurting.  During her interview, Sanne wondered how her dad would deal with the judgment that was sure to come from those who would fail to understand how he could agree to such a thing.

The film documents Sanne’s last days of life. Along with her father, she visited the graves of her grandparents and wept because it was the last time she would be there.  Yet she knew that she would finally be with her grandmother again.

As Sanne prepared for her death she was filled with gratitude for the life she had lived; all the places she was able to visit and the people she’d met. She hoped that everybody would remember the good aspects of her life, instead of all the negative ones.

Sanne wanted her life to end peacefully and she openly discussed her wishes with family and friends. She was tired of living and wanted freedom.