The useless death of Yvan Tremblay

by Nic Steenhout first posted on the Canadian Living with Dignity website: 

We mourn the death of Yvan Tremblay, a man with disabilities who committed suicide rather than be forced out of his apartment on September 14. Isabelle Maréchal describes the situation well: "He decided to end his life because he could no longer deal with an inhuman system."

For 10 years, he lived in adapted housing. The managers of the building where he was staying expelled him because of new safety regulations imposed by the government. Apparently, he could not stay there because it would be impossible to evacuate him in case of fire. If he did not leave by himself, Mr. Tremblay would have been placed in a much smaller home, without even a kitchen. No space for his things. His options were drastically reduced.

A neighbor said: "Yvan didn't have an extraordinary quality of life, but here he found a semblance of life. And they blew out the small flame that was left."

We already wrote that legalizing euthanasia creates a risk for people with disabilities because they do not have choices or alternatives. This is the situation Mr. Tremblay found himself in. He saw no other option than death.

As long as access to all necessary services is not provided adequately, there will be many others who will feel forced to "choose" death, especially if euthanasia (or "medical aid in dying" ) is legal. We have seen too many cases in Belgium, the Netherlands, Oregon and elsewhere where people with disabilities have opted for euthanasia due to lack of other options. As Moelle épinière et motricité Québec says, "the government must understand that vulnerable people are desperate and that beyond the statistics and figures are human lives."

We must enhance access to resources to improve autonomy, as well as access to palliative care. Also, we must avoid the creation (and enforcement) of regulations without considering the real impact they would have on people's lives.