Monday, December 15, 2014

Canadian Senate to debate assisted suicide: my reflections

A Member of Parliament (MP) in our country is pushing to make doctor-assisted suicide an election issue in 2015.

I remember taking Law 12 in high school and my friend Catherine and I were tasked with debating the case of Rodriguez v. British Columbia, a landmark case from 1993 that ruled on doctor-assisted suicide. Catherine and I studied the case and needed to be able to debate it from both sides, so we did a lot of research. As Christians we both knew what God's word says about murder and so to then have to fight for doctor-assisted suicide was a challenge.

The case touched me on a personal level because Ms. Rodriguez suffered from ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, same as my Poppa.

Fourteen years after I took Law 12 and 21 years after the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled against doctor-assisted suicide, the case is once again before Canadians. The SCC heard the case of Carter v. Canada on October 15. Watch a video update from some friends which gives reflections on the SCC hearing.

On December 1, the National Post published an article titled "Senate bill ensures assisted suicide will be an issue in 2015 federal election". One quote stood out to me above the rest (emphasis mine):

“My mother had asked me to kill her a number of times,” [Senator] Nancy Ruth said in an interview, recalling how the elderly woman suffered in the last period of her life. Her mother died at age 90. “I said, ‘You let me know when,’ but she never did, which always interested me.”

Senator Ruth is the lead senator on MP Fletcher's bill.

Perhaps, Senator Ruth, the reason your mother never carried through on her wishes and asked you to kill her is because she didn't actually want to die. I don't pretend to know what Senator Ruth's mother wanted, I never met her.

But I do know what it's like to feel like you've got nowhere to turn and it would be easier to just end it all. I know because I have been there on more than one occasion. I struggled with deep depression and twice I took steps to end my own life.

I know because I watched my father's life ebb away due to cancer. Thankfully he received beautiful care from trained palliative nurses and healthcare staff, instead of an injection.

Papi and me. This was taken 7 years after my last intense struggle with depression and 2 years before my Papi passed away. So thankful we had so many beautiful memories.

I know because pain causes us to think and say many things.

I would like Senator Ruth, MP Fletcher and others advocating for assisted suicide, know that most people are looking for help and not suicide. Sometimes when we are in the depths of despair we do and say things that, if in a different state of mind, would either never occur to us - or would never be something we act upon.

Death is final. Instead of giving people a reason to end their lives, why not give people a reason to live their life?

Note: if you or someone you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression or feelings of deep sadness that you can't seem to shake - I encourage you strongly, seek help. There is hope, there is help, there will be sunshine once again.


  1. Very brave Niki. Good for you. Great post.

  2. I have tried to take my life as well about 7 years ago as well. I was saved by the angels stopping my attempt and by calling to God for his help. that help was granted and I am blessed to be here today for my husband, children and friends. There is help out there, don;t be afraid to ask for it. I did and I feel blessed to be alive and healthy.

  3. A courageous post, Niki. Sending you hugs. I'm not sure if you know but my husband also died of ALS.