A 22-year-old Canadian woman struggling with a debilitating case of Lyme disease committed suicide “to free herself from the unbearable pain,” her grieving dad said.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts (and still in shock) that I share the tragic news that our sweetheart Amelie (22) took her own life this past Sunday,” Alain Champagne, CEO of Le Groupe Maurice in Canada, wrote on LinkedIn earlier this month.
“We were witnesses as to how challenging life had become for her in dealing with the evolving Lyme disease symptoms,” the grief-stricken father continued.
He explained that his daughter had suffered for years but only recently received the diagnosis in the US in June — after “years of medical errance” in their home city of Quebec.
He wrote that “over time and despite the recent treatments, the disease had evolved way beyond the numerous physical symptoms and was now severely impacting her brain.”
He said Amelie was so wracked by the tick-borne bacterial infection that “she decided to free herself from the unbearable pain,” Champagne wrote.
But despite his daughter’s illness, the father gushed about the impact Amelie had on those she met.
“Amelie left a long-lasting impression through her engaging and empathetic personality. Despite the struggles of the past few years she persevered through university, kept working at a respite center for handicapped kids, was starting to volunteer at a homeless shelter near our place … and remained ever the vibrant/fun-loving friend and member of our family,” he said.
Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne disease in the US, is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, and sometimes Borrelia mayonii, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Common symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics if diagnosed. However, diagnosis can be difficult because early symptoms are common to many other illnesses.
Canadian pop-rock star Avril Lavigne also suffered a severe case of Lyme disease. Lavigne, 37, who was diagnosed in 2015, said it was so debilitating, she had “accepted death.”
“I had accepted death and could feel my body shutting down. I felt like I was drowning. Like I was going under water and I just needed to come up for air. Like I was in a river being pulled in a current. Unable to breathe,” she wrote in an open letter to fans in 2018.
The singer has launched a foundation, The Avril Lavigne Foundation, to help fight the disease.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.