An American woman who fulfilled a suicide pact with her sick mother in Canada—in which her mother died, but she did not—has been deported back to the United States after serving eight months of jail time in Alberta.
Linda McNall, 53, said her mother Shirley Vann, 79, was dying of colon cancer. She brought up suicide multiple times in the year before she died, McNall said, and though McNall tried to talk her mother out of it, Vann was in pain and set on ending her life.
The mother and daughter drove from their Arizona home to the Canadian Rockies with their two dogs. There, after three weeks of vacation, they pitched a tent, opened a propane tank and injected themselves with insulin. Vann and the dogs died. McNall did not, despite other attempts to take her life.
McNall appears to be deeply disturbed, having attempted suicide two more times while in an Alberta hospital awaiting trial. Her life has been turbulent, with a failed marriage and a case of Hepatitis C when she worked as a nurse in the 1990s leaving her on disability. She suffers from depression and diabetes, and has been diagnosed as bipolar. She and her mother also owe $100,000 in medical bills.
Her brother, David Schwartz, wasn’t in contact with his sister, but he did talk to their mother regularly and knew they were in debt.
“We — my wife and I and my family — helped them out as much as we could. But I just think it got so extensive they had no other recourse,” he said.
McNall will have to find a women’s shelter upon her return to the U.S., as she is homeless and has no place to go.
“It’s very scary: the unknown. You know, I’ve never been homeless before,” McNall told CBC News prior to her sentencing. “It’s really, it’s really just – it’s scary.”
“The request by Canada for a hospital to hospital transfer directly has not been accepted," said McNall’s defense lawyer, Laura Stevens.
"She will have to meet whatever requirements they have for getting a bed there. If they don't have a bed — and at this stage we are quite concerned that they will not because she can't afford to pay for one— she is likely to end up at a women's shelter."
Judge Charles Gardner decided that McNall’s eight months in jail was sufficient punishment in a country where assisted suicide is a rare charge. The general concern now is for McNall’s welfare.
"I take some comfort that your condition is improving," he told McNall in the courtroom.
"I hope you will receive some ongoing treatment and comfort ... and that you eventually find worth and value in your life."
"Thank you. I appreciate that," was McNall’s response.