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Vancouver Island tops assisted suicide rate

By  Agnieszka Ruck, Canadian Catholic News
  • October 29, 2018

VANCOUVER – The rate of medically-assisted deaths on Vancouver Island is about five times higher than in the rest of the country.

A new report from the Vancouver Island Health Authority has revealed 3.6 per cent of all 504 deaths on the island in the first two years since Bill C-14 were assisted suicides, and the rate has since increased to four per cent. For the rest of Canada, the rate is less than one per cent.

“British Columbia has been at the forefront of the political move and legal challenges that have resulted in Bill C-14 (allowing) access to assisted dying,” one of the report’s authors, Dr. David Robertson, told the Victoria Times Colonist.

Robertson suggested that history is why more people are dying of assisted suicides on Vancouver Island than anywhere else in the country. 

Robertson also said Vancouver Island has an “unusually high number” of doctors willing to end their patients’ lives, which means more access to assisted death.

The report noted it took the Netherlands 15 years for the number of deaths by assisted suicide to rise to 3.9 per cent of total deaths.

It also said of all islanders who went through with medically assisted suicides, 57 died at home, 26 per cent in acute-care hospitals, 12 per cent in hospices or palliative care units, and three per cent in residential or assisted care.

The top reasons patients gave for requesting assisted deaths were cancer (61 per cent), organ failure (19 per cent) and neurodegenerative disease (8 per cent). The average age was 76.

Assisted suicide has been legal in Canada since June 2016.

(B.C. Catholic)

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