TORONTO, Feb. 13, 2020 /CNW/ - Following comprehensive review of the available evidence, the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) released a report today cautioning that evolving assisted dying policies must not put the lives of Canadians who live with mental illness at risk. MAiD in Canada is for medical conditions with irreversible decline, yet unlike other medical conditions mental illnesses can never be predicted to be irremediable.
"The evidence shows it's impossible to predict irremediability of mental illnesses," said Dr. K. Sonu Gaind, the Toronto psychiatrist who coordinates the EAG. "Society would think people were being helped to die with MAiD to relieve suffering from an irremediable illness, but in reality we would be ending their lives because of loneliness, poverty, and all sorts of other life suffering... lives of people who could get better. I don't think Canadians would support that sort of discrimination."
Mark Henick, one of the EAG members with lived experience of mental illness and depression for over 20 years, lets people know he "absolutely" would have taken the option of assisted dying in the past, if it had been available. He points out that while mental illnesses are remediable, receiving MAiD for mental illness is not. "My suicidal-self wouldn't believe my well-self now," Henick said, "but that's exactly why I'm so glad that I didn't have access to an irremediable solution to my suffering. I would have lost out on so much that I then never imagined could someday be possible, but now am very, very grateful for life. Everybody deserves that opportunity."
The EAG report highlights the need to set evidence-based policies and not discriminatorily ignore the realities of mental illness. Canada's MAiD laws should acknowledge the worldwide evidence that mental illnesses cannot be identified as being irremediable, and should also contain proper safeguards against ambivalent wishes to die to ensure society doesn't take the lives of non-dying people who would have enjoyed continued life.
The Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) consists of individuals with extensive Canadian and international experience with MAiD policy and practices, and mental health and illness issues. The EAG includes members of the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) expert panels on MAiD, and additionally those with lived experience/expertise of mental illness. Our purpose: To provide expert, evidence-based advice to guide MAiD policy
SOURCE Expert Advisory Group on Medical Assistance in Dying
For further information: Web: www.eagmaid.org, Email: [email protected], Twitter: @eagmaid