I’m writing this retrospectively, based on what I can remember of the post that started to write itself in my head shortly after I watched this BBC TV programme last night.
If you’re unfamiliar with Terry Pratchett, then I’ll give you a brief rundown – he’s a prolific author, written something like 38 books in his Discworld series, and was diagnosed with a form of early onset Alzheimer’s four years ago. He maintains that when the time is right for him, i.e. at some point after he’s finished the “bloody book” he is working on, and whilst he is still physically able, he will seek an assisted death before the particular form of Alzheimer’s from which he suffers completely gets the better of him.
In the BBC documentary ‘Choosing to Die’, Pratchett followed three men who suffered from motor neurone disease, two to their eventual deaths at Dignitas properties in Switzerland. One of these deaths was shown in the film, that of 71-year-old Peter Smedley. It was for this reason that the film inflamed such controversy, although what viewers saw was merely Smedley taking one drink to prepare his stomach for what was to come, and taking the lethal drug. Smedley gasped a couple of times, asked for water, then fell asleep and passed away.
It was a harrowing documentary to watch, but provided food for thought for me, because I’ve wondered where I am with genuine assisted suicide since losing Kim in January. I’m still not quite sure, but I think in such situations as these where patients are definitely not going to recover, it should be more of an option than it currently is in the UK, or really around the world. (I recognise that it is largely legal in the Netherlands and Switzerland, of course.)
Did you watch the programme? What did you think, or did you change your opinion as a result of watching it?
Attention:BBC TV link may not work outside the UK.