Ah yes, because there’s nothing quite so dignified as croaking on the six o’clock evening news.

Terminally ill Ottawa man wants to die with dignity, plans to end his life today



Canadian Press

Friday, January 28, 2005

– Page A5



KINGSTON — A 78-year-old retired businessman who has suffered from an incurable lung condition for years plans to commit suicide today in his suburban Ottawa home.

Marcel Tremblay said he plans to attend his own wake with 50 friends and relatives, have a final meal of filet mignon and then retire to his home in a bungalow in Kanata, Ont.

Then, wearing his favourite cardigan, Mr. Tremblay will sit in his comfy leather recliner and put a helium-inflated bag over his head.

“I’ll just go to sleep,” Mr. Tremblay told the Kingston Whig-Standard. “Everything stops within five minutes.

“It’s very quick. No side effects. No twitching of the body. No throwing up. The pills could make you do that and if someone is watching you, it could affect them.”

Mr. Tremblay, who has advocated for the right to die, admitted he is expecting to make a “noise” with his suicide.

He suffers from a number of health problems, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a lung condition that leaves him unable to breathe properly.

“It’s supposed to kill me, but it’s taking too damn long,” he said. “I can’t think of a worse death than not being able to breathe.

“I have trouble getting air into my lungs and they say it will get worse and worse until I can’t breathe at all. I have nothing to look forward to except a lousy death.”

Mr. Tremblay said he believes he will eventually die from the illness or from some complication of it.

“I wake up every morning wishing I died the night before,” said Mr. Tremblay, who breathes heavily as he speaks.

Mr. Tremblay, who has been involved with the group Dying with Dignity for years, started planning his death about three months ago when he decided he wasn’t going to live in pain any longer.

His psychiatrist declined to comment on his patient’s state of mind. Mr. Tremblay’s family and friends told the Whig-Standard that he is of sound mind.

Mr. Tremblay has hired Lawrence Greenspon, a prominent Ottawa lawyer, who said suicide is an act that is legal in Canada, provided the person doesn’t receive help from someone else.

Assisting in a suicide carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.

The lawyer will also ensure Mr. Tremblay’s family, who will be present when he dies, won’t be charged criminally for assisting his suicide.

Mr. Tremblay said he hopes his death will have an impact because he feels strongly that people should have the right to decide when they die.

“I want to make as much noise about this as I can,” he said.

The most famous case involving the right to die involved Sue Rodriguez, a 42-year-old B.C. woman who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease. She committed suicide in 1994 with help after losing a legal battle that ended when the Supreme Court ruled society’s obligation to preserve life outweighed her right to choose.

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