Skip to main content

Canadian Hospital with 'No Beds' Offers Euthanasia to Woman Seeking Help for Suicidal Thoughts

Share This article

A Canadian woman who went to a Vancouver hospital seeking psychiatric help after she was experiencing frequent suicidal thoughts, says a staff member suggested medical assistance in dying (MAID) rather than offering her the help she needed.

Kathrin Mentler told The Christian Institute, a UK watchdog, she went to the Vancouver General Hospital's Access and Assessment Centre in June, "because I didn't want to get into a situation where I would think about taking an overdose of medication."

"That day my goal was to keep myself safe. I was thinking of maybe trying to get myself admitted to hospital because I was in crisis," Mentler said. 

During her examination by a clinician, the 37-year-old was told there were "no beds" and that she should expect a long wait to see a psychiatrist as an out-patient.

Feeling disheartened and helpless, Mentler said she was asked, "Have you considered MAID?" The Christian Institute reports, "The clinician then went on to speak of her 'relief' at the death of another patient struggling with mental illness."

"That made me feel like my life was worthless or a problem that could be solved if I chose MAID," she explained.

slider img 2Mentler, a first-year counseling student, later told The Globe and Mail in an interview, "The more I think about it, I think it brings up more and more ethical and moral questions around it."

Vancouver Coastal Health, the medical company which operates the hospital, not only confirmed that the discussion took place but said the topic of MAID was brought up to gauge Mentler's risk of suicidality, the outlet reported. 

"During patient assessments of this nature, difficult questions are often asked by clinicians to determine the appropriate care and risk to the patient," said the health authority in a statement.

"Staff are to explore all available care options for the patient and a clinical evaluation with a client who presents with suicidality may include questions about whether they have considered MAID as part of their contemplations. We understand this conversation could be upsetting for some, and share our deepest apologies for any distress caused by this incident," the statement continued. 

The statement said the health authority abides by current federal legislation that states MAID is only provided to legally eligible patients.

What is Canada's MAID? 

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is Canada's legal form of voluntary euthanasia. It first became legal along with assisted suicide in June 2016 to allow terminally ill adults to control their deaths.

As CBN News has reported, in Canada, MAID is a department of the government. The law was originally intended for Canadian citizens who were suffering from a terminal disease. But according to the government's website, "You do not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for medical assistance in dying."

After March 17, 2024, the Canadian government will also allow people "with a mental illness as their sole underlying medical condition" to qualify for MAID "if they meet all of the eligibility requirements," the website states. 

Mentler wonders why MAID was even suggested to her by a hospital staff member for mental health problems when it's not even legal yet. 

"Gauging suicide {risk} should not include offering options to die, which is what it felt like," she told The Globe and Mail. "I also think it's worth considering that, as of right now, MAID for mental health is not legal yet, so giving someone the specifics of the process seems wrong. How can this be standard procedure for suicide crisis intervention?"

Meanwhile, Mentler has received support and other help from the medical company, and will see a psychiatrist this fall, the outlet reported. 

British Columbia's Ministry of Health said in a statement although it couldn't comment on Mentler's case, the Canadian Criminal Code requires that to receive MAID, a patient must make a voluntary request for the procedure that, "in particular, was not made as a result of external pressure."

All such deaths in the province "are reviewed by the Ministry of Health's MAID Oversight Unit for compliance with the eligibility criteria and safeguards in the Criminal Code, as well as provincial safeguards and regulatory college practice standards for MAID," the statement added. 

Jonny Morris, chief executive of the Canadian Mental Health Association's B.C. division (CMHA BC), told The Globe and Mail the province, like many other jurisdictions, lacks a "systematic, accepted response" for how people should approach those in suicidal crisis. 

Morris told the outlet raising MAID as a suicide risk assessment tool "doesn't align with my understanding of what a comprehensive risk assessment would typically look like," and said he is worried by the idea of MAID and mental illness being discussed in the same conversation.

Meanwhile, The Daily Mail reports, the number of people opting for assisted suicides has risen steadily in the countries where it's allowed. 

Canada recorded more than 10,000 cases in 2021, the latest year for which official data are available, followed by the Netherlands, Belgium, and the U.S.

People with Certain Disabilities Are 'Better Off Dead'

Critics of euthanasia are speaking out after a quadriplegic woman recently railed against the Canadian government, saying it would be quicker for her to be euthanized rather than to provide her with disability help. 

Matt Vallière, director of the Patients' Rights Action Fund, a campaign group, told The Daily Mail last month that most Western governments that allow assisted suicides send the message that "people with certain disabilities are better off dead."

Vulnerable, disabled, economically disadvantaged people and minorities are being driven to opt for death because medical suicide has become the lesser of the healthcare evils to which they have access."

"People who need support are shunted into a 'utilitarian death funnel,'" he added. 

Canada Leads the World in a Gruesome Trend

Almost seven years after Canada passed its assisted suicide law, it has become the leader of the world in transplanted organs harvested from its citizens it has assisted in killing.

Doctors in Canada, where the law Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) was passed in 2016, performed almost half of the world's organ transplants after MAID for that period, according to the December 2022 issue of the American Journal of Transplantation.

Some 4,300 Canadians are currently waiting for organ transplants, the Canadian government posted on its website last month.

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***

Share This article

About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of