A hospital in Canada has issued an apology to a mentally ill woman who attended the hospital seeking care and support when she was suicidal, but who was offered euthanasia instead.
The incident reveals the dangers of legalising euthanasia and demonstrates what happens when the practice becomes normalised and is treated as “health care”.
Kathrin Mentler is a 37-year-old woman with chronic depression and suicidality.
She admitted herself to the hospital’s Access and Assessment Centre, because she felt “she couldn’t keep herself ‘safe at home’ and didn’t have the ‘necessary supports’”.
However, during her intake, a staff member admitted to her that the system was completely overwhelmed and told her that there were not enough beds.
According to Kathrin, the staff member, “out of nowhere” asked whether she had considered MAiD (Canada’s name for its euthanasia and assisted suicide regime).
Kathrin was shocked.
The clinician explained how the euthanasia regime works, while telling her the story of another patient with mental health issues who had drowned in a river, relaying her relief that the patient had passed away, given her struggles.
Kathrin said she went home feeling “hopeless because this was my attempt at reaching out for help and I feel it was actually more traumatising”:
It actually made me feel a lot worse to think I live in this place where the system is completely broken, there’s no help, and the only other option we talked about was assistance in dying.
I wanted help to live.
The hospital has since apologised:
We share our deepest apologies with the individual for any distress caused by this incident.
Kathrin has expressed her shock and disappointment at the hospital’s attitude:
No matter how much you struggle with mental illness or disability or chronic illness, no one should make a judgement about the value of your life or if it’s worth living.
Canada is set to broaden its euthanasia regime in March 2024 to allow people who are suffering only mental illness to apply to end their lives.
This follows a rapid expansion of its euthanasia regime since it was legalised in 2016.
Kathrin’s experience uncovers what happens when a culture of death takes hold in a society that normalises euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the real risks to vulnerable people in our communities.
If you are in a crisis and need help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.