A woman in Canada who is suffering from long-term COVID complications has requested assisted suicide through the country’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) laws, but she notes that it isn’t the sickness itself that has driven her to take this drastic step. Instead, it is the financial complications she has suffered as a result.
“[MAiD] is exclusively a financial consideration,” Tracey Thompson told CTV News Toronto.
Thompson explained that she was first diagnosed with COVID over two years ago. Since then, she has suffered symptoms like extreme fatigue, blurred vision, altered smell and taste, and difficulty breathing. She said that her loss of income during that time, a lack of support, and no hope that she’ll be able to work in the foreseeable future has caused her to consider suicide, noting that she expects to run out of money in five months.
“My choices are basically to die slowly and painfully, or quickly. Those are the options that are left,” she said.
Thompson said that she used to work as a chef, but now she has very little energy due to her lingering COVID illness. “From being able-bodied and employed to basically bedbound. I can’t get up on average for 20-plus hours. I have very little capacity to expend the energy physically, mentally and emotionally, so I try to stay home all the time,” she said.
Despite all this, she told CTV News that she doesn’t want to die. “I’m very happy to be alive. I still enjoy life. Birds chirping, small things that make up a day are still pleasant to me, they’re still enjoyable. I still enjoy my friends,” she said. “There’s a lot to enjoy in life, even if it’s small.”
In her desperate financial situation, Thompson believes that her only alternative is to kill herself. She noted that the process to apply for disability support payments might take years in Canada, and even if she were approved she would likely only get enough money to cover her rent. “I don’t relish the idea of suffering for months to come to the same conclusion. When support is not coming, things aren’t going to change,” she said. “It seems irrational to put myself through that just to die in the end.”
Thompson said one doctor has already signed off on her assisted suicide request, and she is waiting for another one to get back to her. The current requirements for approval for MAiD are a signoff from two independent doctors or nurse practitioners. While the law used to only apply to people who were terminally ill, restrictions were loosened in March of 2021 to allow anyone who says they have an “intolerable” and “irreversible” illness or disability to qualify.
Thompson’s situation illustrates the tragedy of legalized assisted suicide. While she is suffering, it isn’t her current physical condition that is driving her to seek death, but instead her seemingly hopeless financial situation. This coincides with studies that have shown that people who seek assisted suicide do so primarily because they are depressed, lonely, and without hope, not because they are suffering. Thompson doesn’t need assisted suicide — she needs someone to help her through her financial struggles and to remind her that her life, like all life, is valuable, precious, and worth living.
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