Assisted suicide helpline aims to show life is worth living

A telephone counselling service has been helping friends and family of vulnerable Canadians to overcome social pressure to choose assisted suicide.

Compassionate Community Care offers counselling and care to people whose friends or family members are nearing death or dealing with terminal illness.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party passed assisted suicide legislation last June, allowing the practice for people whose natural death was claimed to be “reasonably foreseeable”.


In an interview with, Alex Schadenberg, spokesman for Compassionate Community Care, said that its counsellors stress to callers that all lives are “important” and “worthwhile”, that people “won’t be alone”, and that they “don’t deserve to die by lethal injection”.

He went on to encourage callers to the helpline to show “love and support” to those who are under pressure to undergo assisted suicide.

Schadenberg also revealed that, contrary to popular belief, pain is not usually the problem cited by people opting for assisted suicide.


He said that “fear of being a burden” and “of having no purpose” often came up, as well as the “fear of dying alone”.

In January, an alarming study claimed that the legalisation of assisted suicide could save more than $100 million per year for the Canadian health care system.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, has been widely criticised since its release.

Cost savings

Schadenberg said the study puts “social pressure on people to die” by assisted suicide.

“This is what human life has come down to — dollars saved by killing someone. Now it becomes, ‘How dare you continue living when I have to pay for your costs.’”

The authors of the study suggested that “the financial savings gained from premature deaths by euthanasia could be re-invested into palliative care”.

But Schadenberg responded: “The more that people die prematurely by lethal injection, the less demand will exist for palliative care. Dead people don’t need palliative care”.

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