Canada Considers Allowing Assisted Deaths for Mental Illness

( – Under a law expected to take effect in March, Canada will expand assisted suicide to include those suffering from mental illness, the New York Times reported.

While the country already has one of the most expansive assisted suicide laws in the world, allowing those with a chronic or terminal illness to seek medically assisted death, the new law would make Canada one of about six countries to allow the procedure for mental illness.

The policy has divided Canadians, with critics arguing that it is a sign that Canada’s government-run healthcare system has failed to offer adequate mental health care.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has defended the policy by citing a 2019 decision by a Quebec court that it says mandated the expansion.

However, Conservative lawmakers have accused the Trudeau government of promoting a “culture of death,” while critics on the left believe the government should instead focus on expanding mental health care.

Jason French, a man suffering from severe depression who has already attempted to take his life twice, has been lobbying to make assisted suicide available to those with mental health problems.

French told the New York Times that he is resistant to mental health treatment and does not want to continue “living my life like this.”

Ontario psychiatrist Dr. John Maher, who specializes in treating complex mental health cases, told the Times that because it can take years before a patient improves, he fears that frustrated patients might give up and choose assisted suicide instead.

The Canadian Supreme Court decriminalized assisted suicide in 2019, ruling that forcing citizens to deal with intolerable suffering would infringe on the fundamental rights of liberty and security.

Currently, Canada’s assisted suicide law applies only to those living with chronic, incurable conditions or physical disabilities and those who are terminally ill.

In 2022, approximately 13,200 Canadians opted for assisted suicide, a 31 percent increase over the previous year, according to a health ministry report.

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