Death is such a difficult subject for so many people, even seasoned professionals.
In Canada, it is still illegal for a medical professional to perform a procedure that will cause or hasten the death of another person.
However, someone who is terminally ill does have the option of having a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. This is an Advance Medical Directive that outlines the patient's wishes in terms of devices that will be used or not used, the patient's wishes in terms of pain control, and other comfort measures associated with their care. A psychiatric assessment is usually needed to determine the patient's competence to make that decision, and to ascertain whether the patient truly is ready to die and not just frustrated with being sick/in hospital/incapacitated.
I have been present at the deaths of several terminally ill patients during my nurses' training. There was a huge difference in the demeanour of patients who had taken control of their destiny and opted to "die with dignity" as opposed to those who had unfinished business on this earth that they felt they needed to use every medical and non-medical treatment available to them in order to have more time.
As a nurse, I have felt a greater sense of spirituality in providing care for patients who have died than I ever did in all those years worth of hours I spent knocking on doors and going to meetings at the KH.
Mary, if your friend is truly at the point where he wishes to cease treatment, he needs to communicate that to his family and friends and to the doctors and nurses who are caring for him. Once the decision is made, he can get on with the more important business of tying up the loose ends and spending time with the people he loves. He can have hospice care in his own home, have his friends and family with him, whatever he wants. Once the DNR order is written, the focus of his care will shift from one of trying to "fix" him to one of making sure that he is comfortable.
It isn't the same as putting a pet to sleep - I don't think we'll be seeing human euthanasia legalized in Canada any time soon - but this is the most humane way we have right now.