Assisted-suicide advocate Donna DeLorme takes her own life

Donna DeLorme, a Calgary woman who became a fierce advocate for doctor-assisted suicide after struggling with multiple sclerosis for 18 years, has taken her own life.

Calgary woman with MS lobbied for faster changes to federal legislation on doctor-assisted suicide

Donna DeLorme, a Calgary woman who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly two decades ago and wished to die, has been frustrated that the federal government has not drafted rules for doctor-assisted suicide. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Donna DeLorme, a Calgary woman who struggled for nearly two decades with multiple sclerosis and advocated passionately for the right to doctor-assisted suicide, took her own life this week.

CBC has confirmed DeLorme's death with multiple sources. The assisted-suicide advocacy group Dying With Dignity Canada says DeLorme ended her own life on Wednesday.

"She was a beautiful writer and a brave advocate, and she shared her story — in the news and on her blog — so that other Canadians, those who found themselves in her position, might be afforded more humane choices at end of life than she was," reads the statement posted online Friday.

The group also quoted from a statement DeLorme wrote herself five days before her death that was submitted to be published on the Dying With Dignity website.

In it, she calls on the federal government to act quickly on revising assisted-suicide legislation. The Supreme Court of Canada ordered the federal governement to rewrite the law before Feb. 6, 2016.

Donna DeLorme, pictured here with her cat Pita, in a 2006 photo. (Dying With Dignity Canada)

"I would like to end my life as soon as possible, but since I can't physically do anything to myself, I may need to rely on this law if I can't figure out another way," reads DeLorme's post. "The Feb. 6 date looms in the distance, and is far enough away to frustrate me daily."

It appears DeLorme had already been looking for "another way" to end her life, however. In an Aug. 30 post on her own blog, she said she had "figured out a way" to commit suicide without assistance.

'My plan is in motion'

"Writing my own obituary is creepy, but it's happening," DeLorme posted on her blog. "My plan is in motion, if everything works out, I should be gone in about three weeks."

DeLorme also wrote about her desire to have her loved ones at her side in her final moments, but worried that might expose them to prosecution under existing laws.

"I would like my parents and a few friends here that evening if it's not illegal — for people to be in the vicinity and know what's about to happen, and let me," she wrote. "I think my mom wants to be here either way, but I will not let her jeopardize her freedom."

Leaders debate assisted suicide

News of DeLorme's death came the day after the topic was addressed by federal leaders during a French-language debate in Montreal.

"Certainly, we must modify the Criminal Code in accordance with the Supreme Court decision and we will do so," Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said.

"I can guarantee you one thing: the NDP will have a free vote — never would I muzzle anyone on it," said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. "That's why it must be a consultation that is real, large and sincere."

"The Liberal Party supports this because we understand that it's important to protect the most vulnerable, but also respect the rights and liberties of all," said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.


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