In 2021, the number of people who ended their lives by assisted suicide and euthanasia increased by over 32% from the previous year, accounting for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada.
According to the latest report on Medical Assistance in Dying from Health Canada, 10,064 Canadians ended their lives by assisted suicide or euthanasia in 2021. This figure represents 3.3% of all deaths in Canada and is an increase of 32.4% from the 2020 figures.
A total of 31,664 people have ended their lives by assisted suicide or euthanasia in Canada since legislation making it legal was passed in 2016.
1 in 5 cite loneliness as a reason to want to die
The report states that 86.3% gave the loss of the ability to engage in meaningful activities as among the main reasons for wanting to end their life. Additionally, 83.4% said the loss of the ability to perform activities of daily living was a reason for wanting to end their lives.
57.6% cited inadequate pain control or concern about pain although the report does not distinguish between those who actually experienced pain they could not control and those who were concerned about pain which they did not actually experience.
17.3% of people also cited “isolation or loneliness” as a reason for wanting to die. In 35.7% of cases, patients believed that they were a “burden on family, friends or caregivers”.
End of life concerns are not medical
Statistics from the state of Oregon which made assisted suicide legal in 1997 tell a similar story. The Oregon Health Authority report for 2021 says that 54.2% of patients were concerned with being a “burden on family, friends/caregivers”. 92% of patients were concerned with being “Less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable”. 93.3% were concerned with “losing autonomy” and 68.1% were concerned with “loss of dignity”. Of the total who have died since 1997, 27.5% have listed “inadequate pain control, or concern about it” as one of their end of life concerns.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “The report on the numbers of Canadians undergoing assisted suicide and euthanasia is alarming both in terms of the increase in uptake and in terms of the reasons given for wanting to end their lives. As in Oregon, the reasons given are overwhelming social, psychological, familial and even spiritual. Importantly, the great majority of the very real concerns have nothing to do with medicine. We can recognise these real problems and attempt to address them without offering death as a solution”.