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Giving up on life

From Canada to the Netherlands, the West’s decline into suicide continues

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the Press Gallery Dinner in Ottawa, Ontario, on April 13. Associated Press/Photo by Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press

Giving up on life
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A young woman in the Netherlands is scheduled to die next month. She isn’t terminally ill, and she isn’t suffering from a debilitating disease. In May, she will die because she is struggling with depression.

According to The Free Press, “She recalled her psychiatrist telling her that they had tried everything, that ‘there’s nothing more we can do for you. It’s never gonna get any better.’ At that point, she said, she decided to die. ‘I was always very clear that if it doesn’t get better, I can’t do this anymore.’

She will be one of about 10,000 people in the Netherlands who will likely be killed through euthanasia this year, a number that has steadily increased since the nation broadened its euthanasia law to include cases without terminal illness. Until April of last year, doctors were legally allowed to euthanize children as young as 12 years old if they had parental consent. The Dutch government has since expanded the law to include children as young as one-year-old. So in the Netherlands, children do not have the right to life in their mother’s womb or arms. 

Though the Netherlands is the most extreme case, it’s one of 14 nations in the world with “right to die” laws. Except for Colombia and Ecuador, all of these nations are in the West.

That is significant because the West has been the world’s biggest advocate for suicide prevention. That is probably why the suicide rate in the West is generally lower than in the rest of the world. But the West is now sending a dangerously mixed message on suicide.

The mixed messaging is probably most evident in Canada. No nation creates more awareness and more resources to prevent suicide than Canada. Every January, Canada’s federal and provincial governments, media, sports teams, and many other institutions promote Bell Let’s Talk, a campaign to raise awareness of and prevent depression and suicide. Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is one of the biggest supporters of Bell Let’s Talk and mental health.   

On World Mental Health Day in October, Trudeau said: 

Right now, a growing number of people are experiencing mental health challenges, like depression and anxiety. One in five people in Canada are living with mental illness, and one in three people will experience mental illness in their lifetime. That is why this year’s World Mental Health Day theme, ‘Mental health is a universal human right,’ is so important—it reminds us that everyone, everywhere should have access to high-quality mental health care. … We are investing close to $200 billion to improve health care for Canadians. … And with the launch of the new 9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline next month, we will help save lives through improved access to suicide prevention supports, which will be available to Canadians whenever and wherever in Canada they need it.

There is nothing dignifying about giving up on life, giving up on loved ones, and giving up on God. 

However, Trudeau’s words do not match his policies. Canada’s anti-suicide campaign might be the biggest in the world, but because of Trudeau—its euthanasia law is maybe the second-worst in the world, after the Netherlands. 

In 2016, Trudeau’s Liberal Party passed a euthanasia bill called Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). It initially permitted the killing of only individuals whose death was “reasonably foreseeable.” 

The following year in 2017, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a report saying: “Medical assistance in dying could reduce annual health care spending across Canada by between $34.7 million and $138.8 million. … Health care costs increase substantially among patients nearing the end of life, accounting for a disproportionate amount of health care spending.”

Indeed, MAID became highly profitable for Canada’s government-run healthcare system. By 2020, the number of Canadians killed by MAID was 7,611—seven times the number of people killed by MAID in 2016 (1,018). In 2021, Trudeau’s Liberal Party expanded the law to include people suffering from any disease, disability, or mental illness. 

The latest version of the law is why a judge in Alberta approved an autistic woman’s MAID request despite her father’s objections. In his ruling, the judge cited the daughter’s “autonomy and dignity interests” as outweighing concerns about suicide.

What kind of message does that send? What is the point of preventing suicide for some but not others? Suicide is always wrong, especially if it’s with the help of a so-called doctor. There is nothing dignifying about giving up on life, giving up on loved ones, and giving up on God. 

There is a higher court than any court in Canada and the Netherlands. And that court is presided over by a judge who is the sole authority over life and death. And his ruling is clear: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).

Samuel Sey

Samuel Sey is the founder of and a contributor at True North Centre. He’s a former community liaison at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and the former spokesman on critical race theory for Parents as First Educators. Samuel is a Ghanaian Canadian and currently resides in Ohio with his wife.

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