Depressed 37-year-old woman asked if she wanted government-assisted suicide after clinician said health care system is ‘broken’
Are Canadian doctors abandoning their Hippocratic oath?

TCS Wire

August 11, 2023

A clinician at Vancouver General Hospital suggested Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) to a young woman who was depressed with suicidal ideations — after the clinician told her the wait times to see a shrink were really long and Canada’s health care system “is broken.”

Depressed 37-year-old woman asked if she wanted government-assisted suicide after clinician said health care system is ‘broken’

Kathryn Mentler, a first-year counselling student, shared her experience with the Globe and Mail. The 37-year-old woman claimed that during a visit to the hospital in June, the clinician raised the topic of government-assisted suicide (MAID) as an option.

Mentler, who was seeking professional assistance for chronic depression and ongoing thoughts of suicide, expressed surprise and vulnerability in the face of this suggestion. 

“She was like, ‘I can call the on-call psychiatrist, but there are no beds; there’s no availability,’” she said. 

“She said to me: ‘The system is broken,’” Mentler added. 

Later, “She said, ‘Have you ever considered MAID?’

A health authority from the hospital has defended their approach, claiming that it is standard procedure, however dark. 

“Staff are to explore all available care options for the patient and a clinical evaluation with a client who presents with suicidality may include questions about whether they have considered MAID as part of their contemplations,” said the hospital’s public affairs leader, Jeremy Deutsch.

But Mentler disagrees with their rationale.  She said “Gauging suicide [risk] should not include offering options to die, which is what it felt like.”

Mentler added, “I also think it’s worth considering that, as of right now, MAID for mental health is not legal yet, so giving someone the specifics of the process seems wrong. How can this be standard procedure for suicide crisis intervention?”

Indeed, MAID is not legal strictly due to mental illness alone, but the Trudeau Liberals are considering passing legislation that would allow such. 

The legislation to expand MAID eligibility was scheduled to come into effect March 2023, but after criticism, the Liberals proposed Bill C-39, which seeks to delay the start date by one year.

Last year, federal Justice Minister David Lametti said their bill to delay the expansion of government-assisted suicide was needed to determine which mental health sufferers are “irremediable.” 

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