The Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) reports that a man in British Columbia has ended his life by assisted suicide after years of struggling to secure the 24-hour care his condition required. Sean Tagert, 41, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2013. After suffering cardiac arrest in 2017, he was resuscitated and required a ventilator. He leaves behind an 11-year-old son, Aidan.
Tagert and his family set up his home to allow him to stay there and spend weekends with his son. Tagert had shared custody of his son with Aidan’s mother and refused to move to an institutional care setting because his son would not be able to stay with him. He told the CBC in an interview last year, “My boy is everything to me. I wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for him.”
Because Tagert refused to move to an institutional care facility, he had to piece together the 24-hour care his condition required with Vancouver Coastal Health only providing 20 hours after Tagert lobbied for more care. While struggling to live with ALS, Tagert had to use all of his personal savings to pay an additional $263.50 per day to receive adequate care at home.
In April, Tagert was featured in a local news video regarding the fight for the health care needs of those with disabilities in Canada:
In a Facebook post following his death, friends and family wrote, “Ensuring consistent care was a constant struggle and source of stress for Sean as a patient. While he succeeded, with the help of many, in piecing together a suitable care facility in his own home… gaining the 24-hour care he required was extremely difficult.” The post said that leaving his home for care “likely would have hastened his death.” The post urges on Sean’s behalf “that the government recognize the serious problems in its treatment of ALS patients and their families, and find real solutions for those already suffering unimaginably.”
Sean’s decision to end his life by assisted suicide was undoubtedly encouraged by the chronic shortage of adequate care. Many people do not realize that assisted suicide laws may be interpreted such that the inability to afford care is considered a valid reason for assisted suicide. Even patients suffering from a condition that would not be fatal with appropriate care could be eligible for assisted suicide if they could not afford the care or insurance denied coverage.
Increasingly, insurers are refusing promising treatment while offering to pay for assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide is marketed as increasing choice; the reality is that legal assisted suicide pushes patients to opt for suicide.
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