04.25.2016 07:46 AM

We want to make it easier to kill yourself, but we want to make it harder to kill yourself

Makes sense. Assisted suicide vs. Attawapiskat. Untie that knot, if you can.


  1. Steve T says:

    This is exactly why legislation on doctor-assisted suicide should not include (a) depression or other mental illnesses, and (b) minor children. It should be restricted to incurable or terminal physical diseases, where the patient is an adult.

    • gyor says:

      I support assisted suicide only for terminally ill people, or people in alot of incurable physical pain and agony.

  2. doconnor says:

    The problems in Attawapiskat should be solvable, but many painful diseases are not curable.

  3. Derek Pearce says:

    Well, does the new assisted suicide law cover those who are experiencing ongoing depression, or is it for strictly “medical” issues that are terminal? If the former is included, then yes there’s a dissonance. If not, then not. It is my understanding that assisted death will not be legal if the person asking for it is suffering from a mental rather than physical health issue.

  4. Cory says:

    Wonder what your thoughts are on the PM allowing a free vote on this, which is clearly a charter issue, despite his promise that all votes on “charter issues” would be whipped.

  5. Pipes says:

    I read Warren’s website regularly and I often comment and most of my comments are never sent because I am the least articulate elephant in the room and have little to offer, however this time I am compelled to say this- the terminal ill and the Attawapiskat teens have one thing in common-a loss of hope. One is permanent but the other isn’t. It is a massively complicated issue and as tough as it is-the Natives should leave that reserve. I guess a fundamental question would be, if the kids need a reason to live, what are they?

  6. Martin Gomez says:

    Attiwapiskat brings home the reality that every life is precious. We cannot be indifferent to the emotional suffering of those wonderful people. A humane society responds to a suicidal person not by providing them a needle to end it all, but by doing everything we can to help them regain hope, including sick people, and those with terminal diseases.
    I’m glad that Warren brought this up.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      There is a world of difference between someone who is “suicidal” because of depression or a sense of hopelessness due to circumstances that could be changed, and someone who wants control of the end of their of life because they are going to die a undignified death due an unavoidable terminal illness. The kids in Attawapiskat are not in the same moral/ethical space as someone suffering (for instance) the pain and indignity of ALS. Someone with ALS who has made the clear-eyed decision to end their days on their own terms is not going to magically “regain hope” and decide to endure pain and loss of all bodily functions (some hope there, whoohoo!) in the same way that a teen on a reserve can be counselled to change their outlook on improving the circumstances of their poverty/education etc.

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    This is a Charter issue and you can’t slice and dice it to pass constitutional muster. You have to include mental illness and application to advanced minors. If society entrusts you with the right to drive at 16, it cannot deny you the right to assisted death by physicians.

    • Steve T says:

      Wrong. There are a number of areas in which there is a continuum. It is not unconstitutional to prohibit drinking or voting for those under 18 years old, It is not unconstitutional to define the legal age of consent for sexual relations.

      As for mental illness, as Derek Pearce says above, there is a huge difference between the finality and hopelessness of a terminal illness, versus depression.

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Steve T,

        Not all mental illness is treatable. For some patients, even stabilization is impossible. Wait until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes as I have.

        As for advanced minors, what is the level of acute and unbearable suffering when they won’t let you buy alcohol or vote?

  8. Francis says:

    Context; intention to die versus intentions to survive.

    If one enjoys the privilege of living a life with all the amenities and necessities of life with access to healthcare and an education, but is unable to bear the pain of an illness that is increasingly locking themselves from their world, why shouldn’t self-determined death be an option?

    Conversely, if one lives in circumstances devoid of opportunity, healthcare, education or a future, why shouldn’t they have a fighting chance to better their life where the possibility exists?

    The situation is apples to oranges, really. The only common theme amongst both these scenarios is having government afford the appropriate freedom to these individuals to escape a cycle of undeserved misery. Beyond that, both are significant within their own context and shouldn’t be compared.

  9. Jean A Paterson says:

    Derek P. Is correct in assuming that at this point, patients with clinical depression or other mental illness are not eligible to ask for physician assisted dying. This is controversial because of the arguments over whether or not clinical depression is curable with treatment. Different treatments must be accessible to patients and the advice of qualified professionals. In places where mental health care is not readily available, the problem of depression and its diagnosis becomes more complicated.
    As for successful suicides, the demographic group that has the fastest rising rate in U.S. is senior men. I have no clue why this might be happening, if indeed I recall the stats correctly.

  10. e.a.f. says:

    their is a great deal of difference between assisted suicide and what is going on in Attawapiskat.

    people in Attawapiskat suffer because the federal government “fxxked” them over and over and over. the social issues were created by our Canadian society and we as a society have failed to deal with the issues we created.

    assisted suicide is what some one does when you are very ill and the end isn’t going to be pleasant. an exit strategy may be necessary. I support it and our uncle did it. (Netherlands) We all were able to say our good byes, he choose the time and date and it was over.

    Would I do it? In a heartbeat if I were very ill and the end wasn’t going to be pleasant.

    Would I kill myself if I lived in the conditions the people do in Attawapiskat? Most likely not, but I wasn’t born into those conditions, wasn’t raised in those conditions.

    Trying to tie the two issues together just isn’t on. they are very separate issues. its like trying to tie killing in war to executions. Killing in war happens. That is what it’s all about. Executions, never was in favour. Both deal with state influenced death, but are very separate, just like assisted suicide for the ill and suicide because you like in terrible conditions, don’t have the coping skills, and there is none going to be provided to you.

    I don’t blame the kids for killing themselves. I understand why they do it. We the rest of Canada are to blame for the suicides in Attawapiskat. there will be no solutions until there is political will. After all the deaths all the Commons decided to spend on Attawapiskat was an extra $2M. That tells me all I need to know. Now lets look at how much is going to be spent on infrastructure, wars, travel, and all that other fun stuff governments spend money on.

  11. Martin Gomez says:

    Someone mentioned that life wouldn’t be worth living with ALS. ALS takes 2 to 5 years to kill. But this is from the ALS Canada website: “ALS research is at a time of unprecedented excitement and momentum. Many of the top researchers in the world believe we are now positioned to find treatments that can significantly alter the course of the disease in the future”. What if a cure comes, and you’re dead? There’s no reversing that decision.
    Remember the movie “Scent of a woman”? …”What life!..I got no life!…I’m in the dark here!” Pacino is ready to blow his brains out. He’s feeling suicidal, he can’t bear the thought of going through the rest of his life blind and lonely. But Charlie risks his life to stop him. They wrestle for the gun. Pacino finally says “give me one reason!” [to go on living]. Charlie says “I’ll give you two…you can dance the tango and drive a ferrari better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”…and that breaks Pacino’s will to kill himself.
    This is what society that cares does. We help people find a reason to keep on living. We put up a barrier on the Bloor-Viaduct so that people can’t jump to their deaths. Every suicide is a tragedy, and a failure on society’s part. State-sanctioned suicide is a cop-out, it’s the easy path, it’s a failure.

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