Police probe 61-year-old woman’s death by assisted suicide in Canada after daughters raise alarm

Daughters say they want to raise awareness of ‘gaps’ in Canada’s euthanasia laws

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 28 April 2022 15:27 BST
<p>Representative image: Donna Duncan, a nurse and mother, died by assisted suicide on 29 October last year</p>

Representative image: Donna Duncan, a nurse and mother, died by assisted suicide on 29 October last year

Canadian police have confirmed they are investigating the assisted suicide of a 61-year-old woman after her daughters claimed that she should not have been approved for the procedure given her mental health at the time.

The case involves Donna Duncan, a nurse and mother who died by assisted suicide on 29 October last year in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Her daughters Alicia and Christie Duncan have now alleged that she had been “acting very strange and very out of character for her and was more irritable” and shouldn’t have been approved for the procedure in the first place.

Alicia Duncan said she doesn’t “want this to ever happen to another family ever again”, according to CTV. “And ultimately I want stronger laws and legislation.”

The psychiatric nurse sustained a concussion during a car accident on 25 February 2021. She soon became depressed and experienced weight loss and was in constant pain.

Her daughters claim that her mental health deteriorated when the Covid-19 lockdowns restricted her to home, and her treatment had to be curtailed for “months and months.”

Her daughters also said that their family physician had prescribed some medication for their mother for her mental health but she discontinued it after some time claiming that it didn’t work.

Duncan is reported to have asked her physician to approve her assisted suicide because she had a “poor quality of life” but the doctor declined, stressing that her “mental health really needs to be treated”.

Alicia and Christie Duncan said they tried everything to prevent their mother from receiving medically assisted death.

“Unfortunately, my mother’s depression was not enough to hold her in the psychiatric unit beyond 48 hours,” the daughters said in their petition.

On 29 October last year, at 8.30pm, the daughters were notified “that she [their mother] was dead, less than 4 hours after being released from the psychiatric unit”.

The Duncan sisters said they initiated the petition to raise awareness about the “gaps” in Canada’s assisted suicide legislation, the Epoch Times reported.

“Our hope is that we can enlighten others about the shocking legislation that leaves Canada’s euthanasia deaths among the highest in the world. These already lax laws are relaxing even further in 2022. We should all be very concerned,” they said.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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