Poor mental health and poverty enough for assisted suicide in Canada

Canadian police are investigating the assisted suicide of a 61-year-old woman after her daughters said she was not able to provide consent due to her mental health.

Donna Duncan suffered concussion from a car accident in February 2020, which led to her gradual physical and mental decline until her death in October last year. Her doctor had refused her assisted suicide application, saying her “mental health really needs to be treated”, but it was subsequently granted by other practitioners.

Her death was scheduled for just two days later. In contrast, her daughter Christie Duncan said it had taken “months and months” for her to access treatment for complications resulting from the accident.

‘Rapid advance’

Alicia Duncan, her other daughter, said: “I don’t want this to ever happen to another family ever again. And ultimately I want stronger laws and legislation.”

I want stronger laws and legislation.

Writing in the online magazine Spiked, Dr Kevin Yuill cited other assisted suicide cases in Canada, including one woman who was killed because she could not find affordable housing to suit her medical needs.

He said: “Shockingly, many Canadians are now requesting a medically assisted death for economic rather than medical reasons”, before adding that in “all but a handful” of cases in Canada in 2020, the people involved were euthanised.

The academic added: “That means they were not assisted to kill themselves, or left to die by withdrawing treatment, but were actively killed by their doctor. Once the principle of euthanasia is broadly accepted, its rapid advance is unstoppable.”

Dr Kevin Yuill speaks to the Institute’s Ciaran Kelly.


Dr Yuill explained that a “disturbing” Government document from 2020 estimated that assisted suicide was saving $86.9 million per year in healthcare costs.

Once the principle of euthanasia is broadly accepted, its rapid advance is unstoppable.

It projected that the now in force Bill C-7, which removed the requirement for a person’s death to be ‘reasonably foreseeable’, would save a further $62 million.

Writing in The Spectator, politics lecturer Yuan Yi Zhu added: “Next year, the floodgates will open even further when those suffering from mental illness – another disproportionately poor group – become eligible for assisted suicide, although enthusiastic doctors and nurses have already pre-empted the law.”

Last year, ethicist Dr Tom Koch of the University of British Columbia confirmed that following Canada’s legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide a “slippery slope” is “clearly evident”, resulting “in an expanding class of eligible persons and an ever increasing number of medically induced deaths”.

Also see:

Hospital corridor

House of Lords rejects assisted suicide

Euthanasia and assisted suicide likely to increase overall suicides, study finds

McArthur Bill misrepresents assisted suicide, palliative care body warns

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