Trudeau's Canada promotes assisted suicide when suicidality is at record highs.
I don't recognize my country anymore.
A Bit of Background
When I was in college, physician-assisted suicide (PAS) was controversial. At the time, PAS was debated in the context of terminal illness. For people who are going to die within 3 months or so. Even this was considered taboo. People who are in so much pain & suffering, that they would rather end it soon instead of a drawn out death.
There is a movie depicting the experience of one Jack Kevorkian, a pathologist and purveyor of euthanasia. He was known as Dr. Death - not to be confused with the incompetent neurosurgeon you may have heard about on podcasts.
For some, the final days & weeks can be immensely miserable. One may question whether keeping someone alive with constant medication & machinery is worth it. Not just financially, but in terms of quality of life.
Unfortunately, this discussion is complicated by cost. In the US, healthcare can be very expensive. More so for those who are very ill or close to death. Heroic life-extending measures are often quite costly.
In the case of terminal illness, some people may elect to end life early to avoid burdening their families with those costs. Research suggests that some people’s decision to consider assisted suicide was impacted by how much of a burden they perceived themselves to be upon their loved ones. This is a tragic reality, but illustrates the complexity of the matter.
We must return to the important concern on quality of life. If one chooses to let nature take its course one could live 3-6 more months, but in what condition? Constantly in and out of the hospital, treated like a lab rat, and dealing with all the complications & side-effects of ‘modern medicine.’ Of course this will vary based on the specific diagnosis, but it illustrates a not uncommon dilemma.
Why This Matters
In May 2022, Statistics Canada published a report on pre-covid and post-covid suicidal ideation amongst Canadians.
If you have read any headline in the last year about the ‘unforeseen consequences’ of lockdowns, you will be aware that mental illness and suicidality have been on the rise.
Some believe that these decisions were made with knowledge of the consequences. Others maintain a generous interpretation and accept that it was an honest mistake.
According to the Stats Canada report, in 2019 the rate of suicidal ideation amongst Canadians was about 2.7%. In 2021 it rose to 4.2% - a significant difference (p<0.001).
By all accounts psychiatric disorders are on the rise, and so is suicidality. I don’t know a single outlet that doesn’t blame this on the impact of ‘covid-19.’
It is as we feared, and it seems to be impacting our youngest and most productive as much as any other group.
What I want to emphasize here are the rising rates of despair & suicidality.
To My Surprise
As far as I am concerned, the debate surrounding PAS is ongoing and minimally addressed within medical ethics or public policy. In fact, most countries do not have laws regarding assisted suicide.
As you can see, Canada is one of the few countries that have legalized (dark blue) assisted suicide. Many countries that have legalized it, have strict conditions. The Wikipedia article section on legality reveals just how messy this topic can get.
One of the caveats in many countries with legalized PAS, is that the person must be evaluated psychologically to determine that they are making a sound & reasonable decision - all things considered.
Imagine moving from a law which permits PAS in the setting of clear-thinking, to allowing those with mental illness to make the same decision.
We are led to believe that not only has the original moral quandry (above) been solved, but that we are so good at distinguishing if a person should die, we can confidently cast judgment on the mentally ill as well.
Who is this for?
The reason why I didn’t take that article seriously, at first, was because I had a generous interpretation. Silly me.
Then, I saw this:
It would appear that the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons had some helpful information for doctors who encountered patients with ‘anxiety’ towards the covid-19 vaccines. Stating that:
It is also important that physicians work with their patients to manage anxieties related to the vaccine and not enable avoidance behavior. In cases of serious concern, responsible use of prescription medications and/or referral to psychotherapy are available options.
Whilst Canada is expanding the pool of people eligible for PAS to include those with mental illness, it is simultaneously encouraging its physicians to approach patients who are ‘anxious’ about covid vaccines as mentally ill.
I recognize it’s a stretch to think that the government may weaponize a policy like this against its political opposition. But, we certainly have seen the current Canadian administration weaponize bills brought in under the guise of public good.
Regardless, I grant you that this is a rather pessimistic interpretation. But, consider the impact this has on the psyche of the broader population. Especially in the context of the next revelation…
Fuel on the Fire
Most recently, I saw this:
Now, you might be thinking that there is no way Canada would assist Canadians in committing suicide because they are poor. And you may be right. But, it is beyond the point.
My fear is that the practice of assisted-suicide will be deprived of its gravity, and that people will approach it from a rather mundane and utilitarian perspective.
This article blew my mind. Imagine, you apply for euthanasia on the basis of momentary net worth, only to reconsider after someone starts a GoFundMe campaign in your stead…effectively discouraging you from committing suicide.
The reason most countries don’t have laws regarding assisted-suicide is because suicide is not illegal. If someone wants to commit suicide, that is their right of bodily autonomy. The state has no say.
God, on the other hand, does. Suicide is morally culpable from the perspective of religion and God. The only reason the state even offers assistance…is to make sure you do it right. In some cases, that is their argument.
They don’t want you to mess up and become a burden to the taxpayer.
The Canadian Liberal administration is effectively promoting state-sanctioned suicide. Euthanasia is a euphamism.
What is going to happen once people start to realize that the government is supporting suicide? Whether or not PAS is considered ‘okay’ in some cases but not others is irrelevant.
These policies mark the crossing of a Rubicon. The dilemma of terminal illness and suicide is a matter of respect for autonomy & dignity (some would argue).
Instead of telling people “it is ok to die with dignity”
You are now telling people “certain lifestyles may warrant ending your life.”
Poor Timing (?)
Given all that has transpired in recent years, you may think that public agents should take it easy on the suicide rhetoric.
Given that mental illness is on the rise, don’t promote assisted-suicide.
Given that unprecedented financial instability is at our doorstep, don’t promote assisted-suicide.
Given that distrust of healthcare professionals has peaked, don’t promoted assisted-suicide.
Maybe this is all a coincidence.
Maybe, the people who claim to have ‘expert’ opinion on every matter from abortion to suicide didn’t see this coming.
But, maybe they knew that devaluing the currency, isolating the oldest & sickest, and stirring up pandemic hysteria would ultimately lead to psychological instability bordering on suicidality.
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