Put-me-out-of-my-misery kind of pain 痛不欲生


Reader question:

When someone’s pain during illness is described as “the most excruciating put me out of my misery kind of pain”, what does it mean?

My comments:

The pain is so excruciating that the speaker doesn’t mind if someone kills him out right, say, with a bullet to the head – so that he’s free of the pain.

That’s what “the most excruciating put-me-out-of-my-misery kind of pain” means.

Enjoy the humor, feel his pain but don’t take it literally. I don’t think the sick man (for it sounds like a man talking) means he wants to die. He just wants to convey the idea that he’s in some considerable pain.

In a few days, or even a few hours, the man may be up the sickbed and running about again, feeling upbeat and telling everyone he loves them and plans to live to 100 – once the pain goes away.

Anyways, to put someone out of their misery is euphemism for killing them. This expression, American in origin, originally refers to pet owners killing their pet dog or horse in order to free them from suffering.

You know, the pet dog or horse may be suffering from an incurable disease or injury and is in constant in pain. Its owner may choose to kill the pet and end its misery. It’s a form of mercy killing.

Sounds pretty cruel to me, but it is a primitive form of mercy killing, at least so thinks the owner.

No more comment. Let’s just read a few media examples of people being put out of their misery in various situations, all grim:

1. Aleesha DeKnikker was grocery shopping, her phone set to silent, when the voicemail from her mother, Carol Simon, came in: “Oh, it’s just Mom. Your brother has really lost it, Aleesha.... He’s just having a mental breakdown and he won’t even believe where he’s from. He won’t even believe that I gave birth to him…. I don’t know what to do.”

Six weeks later, Simon was found dead, along with her 7-year-old grandson, Brayden Otto. Her son, Heath Otto, 24, admitted to investigators in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that he had strangled his mother and nephew with a phone cord and then slit their throats.

Soon after, Otto was ruled incompetent to stand trial, and he was sent to a state hospital. Doctors hired by his defense lawyers diagnosed him with schizophrenia. The Minnehaha County state’s attorney, Aaron McGowan, told DeKnikker that her brother could face the death penalty. A trial will take place as soon as Otto’s mental condition stabilizes, unless the prosecutor agrees to let him be committed to a hospital permanently rather than face prison and potential execution.

The case is gearing up amid a broader decline in the death penalty, as lawmakers around the country are considering bans on death sentences for people with certain serious mental illnesses. Some prosecutors have pushed back, seeing these bans as a backdoor effort to abolish the punishment entirely.

Otto was close to his mother growing up, and he began experimenting with drugs as a teenager. After a discharge from the Marines in his early 20s—he was caught using steroids, his sister said—she started to notice moments of paranoia. “Unless you were close to him you wouldn’t see it,” Simon’s friend Maddie Borah said. “He was going to school to be an electrician, and he’d be convinced people were going into his toolbox.” He began drinking heavily, and occasionally Simon would call a detox facility to hold him until he sobered up. “I think she was lenient because deep inside she knew there was something going on, beyond him being an addict,” Borah said.

Simon and DeKnikker, Otto’s mom and sister, were both nurses, so they recognized a turning point around January 2016—he was more paranoid than ever, repeating himself and retreating into isolation. “I knew he had schizophrenia,” DeKnikker said. “I knew he would need to get in trouble to get help, but I never thought he would do something violent.” He was not formally diagnosed. Twice, in May and August of 2016, he was arrested at a bank where he was refusing to leave, as he talked about applying to work for the CIA, and in September, he set off his mother’s home alarm system, with the aim of making a CIA recruiter show up.

Simon wanted her son to be committed to a mental health facility, but South Dakota laws required that he be a danger to himself or others, and as in much of the country there were few resources for those needing mental health treatment. He never saw a therapist. DeKnikker offered him money if he agreed to seek treatment on his own, but he said she’d need to give him a large sum, to pay for the voices in his head. Finally he agreed to treatment, but when it came time to check into a hospital, he changed his mind and refused to stay. “He didn’t verbalize intent to harm himself or others,” Borah said, so he was not committed.

That was on a Tuesday in November. On Sunday, his other sister, Cassandra Otto, left her son Brayden with him and their mother. When she called to check in, she could tell from his tone that something terrible had happened. She sped home. He’d set off the home alarm, so law enforcement officers had already arrived. They asked if anyone needed medical attention, and Otto responded: “Not anymore.”

He went on to claim, falsely, that his mother and nephew had medical conditions and he wanted to “put them out of their misery.” He later told DeKnikker, in her recollection, “It was an order from the CIA, and then he said stuff about Hillary Clinton, and if he didn’t do it it was going to be World War III.” His defense lawyers hired experts who diagnosed him with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

- He’s Living With Severe Mental Illness. Should He Face the Death Penalty? TheMarshallProject.org, April 17, 2019.

2. A Pennsylvania father fatally shot his daughter’s boyfriend after finding out he smoked marijuana with her at a party, police say.

Michael D’Biagio, 41, was charged Friday with homicide and aggravated assault in connection to the death of 17-year-old Darren Jevcak.

Jevcak was shot outside Scustie’s Super Pizza, a pizzeria in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

D’Biagio told police that he shot Jevcak in the head “to put him out of his misery” when the teen fell after being shot about five or six times, New Castle police chief Robert A. Salem told USA TODAY.

“It’s a disturbing case, with a senseless act of violence,” Salem said to USA TODAY. “Some people are trying to defend the guy, but there’s no reason to shoot a 17-year-old boy.”

Authorities say D’Biagio shot Jevcak while his wife and daughter were shopping at a local mall, NBC News reported.

Salem told USA TODAY that a prevailing narrative in the case that Jevcak sold drugs to D’Biagio’s daughter is false.

“The victim was the shooter’s daughter’s boyfriend and the father found out that his daughter and her boyfriend smoked weed together at a party,” he told USA TODAY.

- A dad fatally shot his daughter’s boyfriend for smoking weed with her at a party, police say, USAToday.com, July 23, 2019.

3. Shaun Phillip Hardy of League City entered a plea of guilty to the charges of murder and tampering with a corpse related to the death of his ex-wife, Anne-Christine Johnson in 2016.

Monday, Hardy was sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder and 20 years in prison for tampering with a corpse.

On the day of the plea, Johnson’s mother, father, and sister gave victim impact statements, detailing how her loss has affected them and their family.

Hardy will be eligible for parole on the murder charge after he has served one-half of the sentence. He will be eligible for parole on the tampering charge after he has serve one-quarter of the sentence.

Johnson was reported missing to the League City Police Department on December 21, 2016.

Johnson and Hardy had both taken out protection orders against the other, following a violent confrontation. Hardy claimed she was the assailant. Johnson went to an emergency room for her injuries. Charges were never filed.

Johnson returned to Hardy. Friends say it was so she could be with their young son, who has autism. “She didn’t go back to Shaun,” said Janell Bogard. “She went back to protect her child.”

League City police were able to get a warrant to search Hardy’s home. A judge signed the order because a geo-tracker detected a ping from Johnson’s cellphone after her disappearance. It came from near Hardy’s house.

“That means her phone never left the area,” said Kelley Williamson, with the League City Police Department. “We were able to go in and look for any cell phones in the house.”

During that search, a detective noticed a strong odor coming from the garage. A second search warrant was issued, and soon, police found a ‘large object’ wrapped in dark plastic.

When police entered the house, the probable cause document stated that “Shaun started sobbing when he saw the uniforms and equipment.”

According to the court papers, Hardy said Johnson had a knife, and he “pushed her as hard as he could.” When she was on the ground, he said he kicked the knife “up to the hilt” in her chest. Then it states he put a Kroger plastic shopping bag over her head, “to put her out of her misery.”

The document states, “He said he wanted to see Anne die.”

An initial exam said she had a knife wound to the chest, as well as a cut on her chin.

Equusearch was involved in the initial search for Johnson, spending more than a week, covering a thousand acres. No sign of her was ever found.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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