A BBC film documenting the months leading up to the death of a man who took his own life in an assisted suicide in Switzerland was lauded across social networks on Wednesday, with many viewers calling for a change in the law.
'How to Die: Simon’s Choice' followed Simon Binner and his family in the year leading up to his death. The 57-year-old, who was was diagnosed with the debilitating disease in January 2015, took his own life in October at the Eternal Spirit clinic in Zurich.
Simon Binner took his own life at an assisted suicide clinic after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease
Although the 'moment of the death' wasn’t aired, the documentary showed traumatic scenes in which Binner laid on a bed, a pre-recorded message telling his wife, “I really love you Debbie. We've had such a fun and laughter-filled marriage, we were really blessed to have found one another.”
He was also shown taking the life-ending drugs via a drip before a coffin was wheeled into the room.
Ahead of the show’s airing, the BBC was criticised by anti-assisted suicide group Care Not Killing, a spokesman calling the film “deeply disturbing.”
Speaking to The Independent, Alister Thompson said the documentary raised “serious concerns,” adding: “Showing scenes like that on national television risks skewing what people think about assisted suicide and sidelines the alternatives, such as hospice and palliative care.
“It gives the impression that if you’re disabled or terminally ill your life is somehow worthless and you should kill yourself,” he added. “Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in this country and the more it is normalised, the more people will think of it as a way out.”
However, the documentary garnered near-universal praise on Twitter with many calling it “important viewing.”
In the UK it remains an imprisonable crime to "aid, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another." Doctors are also prohibited from assisting a patient to die, though many medics can hasten death should a patient wish to die by withholding treatment.