Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Senator Concerned about Mental Health and Assisted-Death Legislation

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Senator Concerned about Mental Health and Assisted-Death Legislation

Article excerpt

Senator worried about assisted-death bill

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OTTAWA - Psychological suffering should be excluded from future assisted-death legislation, says a Conservative senator who became a mental-health advocate in the wake of her husband's suicide.

Sen. Denise Batters, the widow of former Tory MP Dave Batters, said people suffering from mental-health challenges need support and resources even if they have given up on themselves.

Batters said she unfortunately has insight into how a suicidal mind works because her husband took his own life in 2009 after a battle with severe anxiety and depression.

"I have seen ... the devastating impact, not only for the individual that goes through that pain themselves ... but at the same time ... I've seen the devastating consequences that it can have on the immediate family members," Batters said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Canadians want to see strong safeguards in the upcoming bill, she noted.

"Canadians may support assisted suicide, but they want extremely strong safeguards and I think that when I talk to people about the possibility of psychological suffering being included as ... sole grounds for having access to physician-assisted suicide, they are horrified and stunned that could be a possibility," she said.

Mental-health problems can be treated, Batters added.

"Unfortunately, my situation with my husband, did not have a good ending ... however, that doesn't mean there aren't many, many thousands of people in this country who have lived through a period of severe anxiety and depression and come out the other side," she said.

A special joint committee of senators and MPs is preparing recommendations to the government as it looks to draft assisted-suicide legislation in response to a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling last year.

The high court recognized the right of consenting adults enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to end their lives with a doctor's help. …

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