Suicide profiling at border investigated

Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner wants police to stop sharing suicide attempts with U.S. Officials. The request comes after a series of cases where people who have tried to commit suicide in the past are now being told at airports and borders that they can’t get into the United States.

67-year old Lois Kamentiz of Toronto wanted to visit her family in the U.S. four years ago, but she was stopped by border officials at Pearson International Airport.

“I was fingerprinted, I was photographed, I was escorted out of the airport,” she says.

They told Kamentiz she was not being permitted to enter the U.S. because police had been called to her home in 2006, and that she had been violent to herself, others or property. They were referring to the time her partner called police because she had tried to kill herself by overdosing on pills.

“There are no mandatory requirements, none, which state that attempted suicide information must or even should be disclosed to CPIC,” says privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian.

CPIC is the Canadian Police Information Centre database that is shared with U.S. border officials. It alerts officials about any threats to public safety.

The privacy commissioner wants police services across the province to use some discretion when it comes to putting information about an attempted suicide into that database.

“It’s an egregious breach of our privacy of our right to travel freely. I’m hoping her report will be a turning point,” says Kamentiz.

So does the Canadian Mental Health Association, which has been advocating for change for years.

“The stigma of where they were with respect to their mental health years before really impacted the life they want to lead so we think it has a tremendous negative affect and we want to see those cases eliminated where that information is not available,” says Camille Quenneville, CMHA CEO.

Click here to see the full report.


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Karen J. Pottruff says:

I don’t think the fact that a person has had a mental illness or attempted suicide be a factor in keeping one from entering another country (vis a vis U.S.A.)