The Hamilton Spectator

Dear Justice Minister: Why make it easier to die?


Research tells us that 75 per cent of people thoughtful­ly plan their suicides. Of the people who try to kill themselves, only 23 per cent try again, and only seven per cent go on to complete suicide. Tragically, 4,000 Canadians complete suicide each year. Ninety per cent of those who die have mental illness. Thankfully 57,000 people don’t die. What does that tell us? That with support people heal and recover and live full lives.

Contrast those facts with the federal Justice Minister David Lametti, reluctantl­y announcing a oneyear delay in the implementa­tion of MAID for mental illness which he acknowledg­es is “a species of suicide.” He said, “remember that suicide generally is available to people. This is a group within the population who, for physical reasons and possibly mental reasons, can’t make the choice themselves to do it themselves. And ultimately, this provides a more humane way for them to make a decision they otherwise could have made if they were able in some other way.”

Why does a supposed defender of a just Canadian society want to induce people with mental illness to suicide?

Minister, here are 10 reasons in support of your plan to help people with their suicides:

1. MAID makes suicide so much easier (suicide prevention efforts try to make access to means harder and to limit suicide contagion);

2. It legitimize­s suicide socially and shows our children a better way to deal with life’s suffering (counter the suicide taboo and couch it as a medical act — no need to role model resilience);

3. You’ll get more people to believe that they shouldn’t be a burden on others (even though they can’t help that they developed a brain disease);

4. Make rejection and stigmatiza­tion actually look more like caring (society doesn’t value you and is sometimes afraid of you so leave society permanentl­y);

5. Save money (even though proper mental-health care saves society money overall and we underfund services and keep sick people poor already);

6. So we don’t burden already suffering people with planning responsibi­lity for their own suicide (let me help you die rather than help you live);

7. Let’s help people not “botch it” or do it in ways that might upset others (let’s change that 93 per cent “failure” rate to a 100 per cent sanitized “success” rate);

8. So inexperien­ced or inadequate­ly trained doctors and nurse practition­ers who think death is the only way to reduce suffering from mental illness don’t have to improve their skills; 9. So no doctor or nurse practition­er who tells a patient they will “never get better” is embarrasse­d by the patient actually recovering (in reality no health profession­al can predict whether psychiatri­c illness in a particular patient is truly irremediab­le);

10. To get people off the wait lists faster (only one in three adults actually have access to mental-health services they need)

MAID advocates say it is all about equity. Fair access to what other suffering, disabled and terminally ill Canadians can already get. In fact, it is about equality. Equal access to support, treatment, food, housing, compassion and a meaningful place in a welcoming society.

Many people living with mental illness are haunted by suicidal thoughts. So why make it easier? That is suicide inducement and facilitati­on. MAID profoundly undermines decades of suicide prevention efforts. Efforts that were working. So be warned. In one year, if you develop a mental illness you will be given the message that you are now in the category of people whom the government cares about so much it will now plan and fund your suicide pathway for you and ensure you die.

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