The 38-year-old woman in Canada's north was jailed for five days and placed on probation for two years after repeatedly telling her 17-year-old daughter to kill herself. The girl tried but luckily was unsuccessful.
The decision of Justice Susan Cooper of the Nunavut Court of Justice was released yesterday. On Jan. 31, the woman known only as L.P., was found guilty of one count of of counselling a person to commit suicide. The mother had repeatedly told her 17-year-old daughter she was not wanted and she should kill herself.
The teen tried to comply with her mother's wishes. She attempted suicide on several occasions and the judge found two of these attempts were made right after her mother told her to take her own life. One attempt was so serious, the young girl had to be flown south for medical treatment.
In her judgment, Cooper wrote, "The nature of this offence is simply beyond the comprehension of right thinking people. It is only through luck and the work of medical and mental health professionals that the daughter is alive today."
The mother's actions came to light after the 17-year-old told one of her mental health workers about it.
After L.P. was arrested, she was released on bail with the condition she have no contact with her daughter or her one-year-old son. But she kept up the relationship with her daughter, visiting with her on a daily basis.
Cooper wrote, "It would seem that, absent a psychiatric assessment supporting reconciliation, such contact is risky." The justice had harsh words for social services, accusing them of not only turning a blind eye to the situation but of facilitating the breach of a court order. The Department of Health and Social Services denied this, saying they had done everything they could to enforce the order which was impossible to do in a small community of 2,800.
CBC reports L.P. has "intellectual limitations" and may have had her own mental health issues in the past. After her common law husband went to jail on an unrelated matter, she began raising the two children on her own.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, no person commits murder or manslaughter by influence of the mind alone. An exception to this is section 241(a) that makes it an offence to counsel another person to commit suicide, whether or not they are successful. Counselling suicide is an indictable offence punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.
Justice Cooper imposed the five day sentence after the prosecutor requested a short, sharp sentence. The terms of L.P.'s probation include obtaining counselling and to have no contact with her daughter unless both her probation officer and social services approve.