To the Editors,
Re your online article, “Suicide among Canada's First Nations: Key numbers”:
Having worked in First Nations/Inuit communities for nearly 10 years, I can attest to the devastating fatalism regarding suicide.
Indigenous communities do not shy away from the reality of death, and there are no sentimental, humorous anecdotes told at a sanitized memorial service.
The community comes to a standstill: school is closed; the gymnasium is often the site of the wake and funeral service. Generally, the entire community views the deceased in an open coffin, and grief - felt by all, from children to elders - is palpable and intense.
The advisory committee reporting on assisted suicide and euthanasia recommends that self-diagnosed "suffering" adults - anyone over 18 - and "mature minors" - be given the "right" to euthanasia. Somehow I doubt any committee members have attended the open-coffin funeral of an indigenous youth who has committed suicide.
The children and youth of our indigenous communities are already at risk, as your article attests. With legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia, the fatalism will be legitimized - no longer will suicide be contagious tragedy. Instead, it will be a medical solution to intolerable conditions.
When applied to First Nations and Inuit teens and young adults, this policy would likely decimate whole generations of indigenous Canadians.
The committee is either cavalier or ignorant - neither of which instills confidence in its members’ recommendations. This absurd idea that getting someone to kill you is as beneficial to you as your right to live, denotes a society gone mad.
And if you think troubled, isolated young people will resist exercising their “right to be killed”, maybe you should spend some time with them in a few of our northern communities. Or go to a funeral of one who committed suicide.
Kate Kelly, B.Ed., B.A.
Board Member, Choice Is An Illusion