The tragic case of Eric Coulam: 20-yr-old to END HIS LIFE after pain from mystery illness
A 20-year-old man from Canada has had to take one of the most difficult decisions of his life. He is choosing to end his time on Earth by assisted suicide. However, before he could bid farewell, Eric Coulam plans to host a goodbye barbeque for all his loved ones. Eric plans on opting for MAID (medical assistance in dying) as he suffers from chronic pain due to a mystery illness that has not yet been diagnosed.
Eric, a resident of Fort St John in British Columbia, Canada, said that he has been living in pain for years due to a mysterious illness that has affected his gastrointestinal system. This unspecified condition has left him battling with liver and kidney disease.
Six years ago, in 2016, suicides were made legal in Canada in case of extreme situations to end the suffering of adults who are terminally ill. Last year, in 2021, this law was further amended and it included the cases of patients where natural death was not foreseeable in the near future. To be eligible, the criteria includes that the person must be 18 years or above and have a "serious and incurable illness, disease or disability".
Unfortunately, Eric has been struggling with chronic pain since almost a decade and it is his decision to not live with it any longer. He has not yet set a date for this legalized procedure, but he planned a "goodbye BBQ" for some of his closest family and friends, which included almost 600 individuals.
Last month, Eric told the Mirror, "I sometimes lay there at night and get sad sometimes, but for the most part, I’m waiting for the day because I’m in lots of pain all the time." He continued, "I’m on many meds just to be comfortable for a few hours." He said, "I can go when I'm ready, it's not when I'm sick, it's not when they pull my meds or anything, it's when I'm ready. I thought about it for a while, I kind of ghosted my family because I wasn't in a good place. I knew it was what I wanted to do. It was hard to tell everyone else."
His Facebook Page called Eric's Army has seen some heart-warming posts. One read, "Heyy Guys, so just wanted to let everyone know how today went at Eric’s Celebration Of Life Party! So for starters the weather couldn’t have been any better, so that was good!! So honestly it was just a really good day with a lot of good people, & people that care about Eric a lot, so seeing Eric’s smile today really was touching to me" This friend continued, "This was one of his Bucket List Things he wanted to do, & he wanted to be able say goodbye to his loved ones, & friends in person!"
Donna Suski, Coulam's grandmother, said she has struggled to accept her grandson’s decision, in an interview with National Post. “I lost his mom,” she said, through tears. “And now I’ll be losing him.” Suski said that the loss of his mother, and having to grieve at such a young age, caused Coulam's health to decline very quickly.
In another interview, Coulam also says he first experienced problems after his mother's death by suicide in 2013. “It began as minor symptoms. My stomach would hurt, I’d eat something, and then I would be sore, but then I’d eat the same thing again, and I wouldn’t be sore,” Coulam said. The doctor he consulted used a scope to study his intestine and stomach. “She got to a certain point and couldn’t go any further. She told me to drink the drink again and come back in a couple of days,” recalled Coulam. The next visit revealed the same issue but the doctor did no other follow-up investigation or recommend a visit to gastrointestinal specialists or even prescribe laxatives.
Several emergency hospital visits later, Coulam says his condition worsened and resulted in a ruptured stomach causing sepsis and a two week coma. Over the years, Coulam has been admitted to hospitals in British Columbia and Alberta, suffering side effects of his mysterious condition — from pancreatitis, to liver and kidney disease. He even had his small bowel removed but the surgery did not stop the constant chronic pain. He has not, to date, received a proper diagnosis.