Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die

Gary

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
http://viooz.co/movies/17369-terry-pratchett-choosing-to-die-2011.html


"Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die is a 2011 one-off television documentary produced by KEO North for BBC Scotland on the subject of assisted suicide, directed and produced by Charlie Russell. It is presented by Terry Pratchett and features Peter Smedley, a 71-year-old motor neurone disease sufferer, committing suicide at the Swiss assisted dying organisation, Dignitas.

The film sparked strong controversy and was criticised by Christian and pro-life organisations as "biased"; the accusations were denied by the BBC, a pro-assisted death organisation Dignity in Dying, and Terry Pratchett himself."

"The film focuses on the story of Peter Smedley, an English millionaire hotelier who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2008. At the beginning of the film, Pratchett meets with the Smedleys to talk about dying; then he visits the widow of a Belgian writer Hugo Claus who decided to commit suicide in 2008 after developing Alzheimer's disease.

Pratchett also meets Mick Gordelier, a retired London taxi driver and a motor neurone disease sufferer who chose to stay in the UK, preferring to be cared for in a hospice. After that, the novelist visits Andrew Colgan, a 42-year-old multiple sclerosis sufferer; Colgan, like Peter Smedley, decided to go to Dignitas to take his life. Pratchett then travels to Switzerland to accompany the Smedleys and meets with Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas; during the final scene of the film, he witnesses the death of Smedley who takes a lethal dose of the barbiturate Nembutal, being kept company by his wife Christine and two Dignitas staff."

The film has sparked strong controversy even before its première, with the BBC receiving about 750 complaints before the broadcast on 13 June and several others after the airing; on the following day, the total number of complaints reached 1,219 with 301 calls in favour of the film. It has been criticised by Christian and pro-life organisations, including the Care Not Killing Alliance, whose spokeswoman, Alistair Thompson, described it as a "pro assisted-suicide propaganda loosely dressed up as a documentary"; its campaign director Peter Saunders stated that the film is a "disgraceful use of licence-payers' money and further evidence of a blatant campaigning stance".Michael Nazir-Ali, a former bishop of the Church of England, added that it "glorified suicide and indeed assisted suicide".

Four British peers: Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Lord Alton of Liverpool and Lord Carlile of Berriew issued a joint complaint to Director-General of the BBC Mark Thompson and BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten of Barnes, calling the film "repugnant" and "disgraceful"; they wrote that the BBC ran a "orchestrated campaign" in favour of assisted death. In July 2011, an Early Day Motion calling on the BBC to remain impartial on the subject of assisted dying was supported by 15 members of the House of Commons.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying defended the film saying it was "deeply moving and at times difficult to watch" and that it "did not seek to hide the realities of assisted dying". A spokeswoman of the BBC denied the accusations of bias saying that the film "is giving people the chance to make their own minds up on the issue";BBC's commissioning editor for documentaries, Charlotte Moore, added that the broadcaster "doesn’t have a stance on assisted suicide, but [they] do think that this is an important matter of debate". Craig Hunter, the film's executive producer for KEO North, called it a "valuable contribution to the increasingly urgent debate as to who determines when and how we die."

Terry Pratchett, who was a presenter on the film, disclosed his reason for making it, stating that he was "appalled at the current situation" and that "he knows that assisted dying is practised in at least three places in Europe and also in the United States."He defended the right to decide on assisted death, saying that he believes "it should be possible for someone stricken with a serious and ultimately fatal illness to choose to die peacefully with medical help, rather than suffer."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Pratchett:_Choosing_to_Die


I watched this documentry last night, and found it very thought provoking and moving. It tackles a very emotive subject with honesty, sensitivity and some humour too. Highly recommended.
 
G

Gertrudes

Guest
Thank you for that dreamrider, I watched it 2 weeks ago and also found it to be very touching and thought provoking.

Just a note, these people aren't really committing suicide but rather, and as they term it, "assisted dying". "Assisted dying" being a much more dignified, supported, and painless way of dying by choice. That is a fully conscious, well pondered choice.

Often the person isn't depressed, but simply weighting the fact that as their health dwindles and they begin to suffer from disabilities that weight increasingly on their quality of life as well as the quality of life of their loved ones, dying can be a choice. It was very moving to see how the possibility was pondered by both sufferers as well as their closest ones.

The case of Alzheimer, the condition from which Terry Pratchett is suffering from (although in its very early stages) presents a very difficult conundrum: the sufferer has to decide whether he/she wishes to die before the condition becomes difficult enough to actually justify for the decision to be made. In countries where assisted dying is legal, dying is accepted only when the choice, from the sufferer, is done fully and consciously, and as Alzheimer takes over a patient's mind he/she will no longer be capable of such decision.
In other words, you will have to anticipate how much suffering you may expect in the future and decide whether you wish to die while your health and life quality are still reasonably good.

dreamrider said:
Four British peers: Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Lord Alton of Liverpool and Lord Carlile of Berriew issued a joint complaint to Director-General of the BBC Mark Thompson and BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten of Barnes, calling the film "repugnant" and "disgraceful"; they wrote that the BBC ran a "orchestrated campaign" in favour of assisted death.
It is awfully disempowering and saddening not to be able to choose one's own death.
In the movie, one of the fears exposed by the opposers of the practice was that of people going on a rampage of death. That makes no sense to me, and it is often the fact of having no choice that leads people into full blown depression. Staff members from Dignitas also mentioned how some people only go there once to see how things are done, and never return because they have the comfort of knowing that they can have a dignified death should they choose to, which allows them the freedom and mental space to also choose otherwise.

Adding to the above, if the practice of assisted dying were to be made legal in UK, what would prevent the system from creating a fully supportive environment in which the person choosing to die goes through therapy in order to access whether their choice isn't fuelled by something, physical or emotional, that when treated can enable them to choose otherwise? It isn't as if people decide to die today and it has to be done tomorrow!
 

happyliza

The Living Force
Trying to be as objective as I can - isn't taking your own life just that? Whatever labels people prefer to buffer their consciousness taking one's life is suicide. I know there can be a myriad reasons why people consider this, among others, not being a burden on others. This is commendable, however, I believe life is not over until it is naturally over.

We have the third element to also consider which is medical staff and family turning off a life support machine if someone is absolutely brain dead and just kept alive by the machine. But they will have to be 100% sure as there have been many who have also woken up from a coma too. Either they were not dead or they 'chose' to come back ?

I may be wrong but I thought we already have 'exit' points build into our incarnation. I certainly recall 2 possible events ie where I nearly got run over crossing in front of a stationary bus on the other side of the road on a high street. An impatient driver came from behind the bus at speed to overtake. For me at that point everything went in VERY slow motion for me. I clocked the impossible speed that the car was doing and that it was impossible for the car to stop in time - nor did I have the chance to run for it. Somehow that car stopped dead, without even skidding or tyre burns! Impossible. I also witnessed the impossibility instantly - not once I was out of danger on the pavement. I don't have any other explanation. Oddly enough I felt calm the whole time and didn't panic later. I just thought I was consciously witnessing an 'exit' event, felt gratitude and stayed positive. I may have just been lucky, but it felt much more than that IMHO.

Also there is nowhere in all of my studies to date that I have ever learned that suicide is a good thing. Quite to the contrary. In most cases I think you never get what you expected through the escapism. The opposite in fact?

All live is an opportunity of learning and lessons. Many come here reluctantly (naturally), others without much say in the matter maybe. Either way is our life not a gift for our evolution - even OP's? For that reason as we were given our life/existence is it really our business to destroy it? Is that not STS thinking? (even though altruistic reasons may be sincerely believed by those ending their life prematurely).

Another important aspect to consider, purely my opinion, is that the 'miraculous' can happen right up to our last breath. Perhaps the 'condition' we have is itself a lesson? Perhaps the lesson is for others to learn how to be STO from your 'condition'. We cannot see the big picture, nor remember what, if anything, may have been pre-agreed? Maybe that last lesson - in your final seconds of awareness/experience/suffering is the BIGGEST lesson of your whole life. Who are we to know? Who are we to assume?

There are many elements to consider, let alone any karmic consequences.
How do we know that in 5th density we will not actually regret that decision? A lost opportunity that was unknown to us at the time?
It certainly is difficult to live every second in full awareness as it is, we all know this here on the forum.

Maybe it is not even about having our full mental or bodily capacity functioning? Our brain and body is not who we really are after all. Obviously it is essential for the WORK, but I could not deny the possibility of other types of lessons being learned for those not doing the Work. OBE's for instance - though not recommended here for sensible reasons.

Just my thoughts. Maybe worth sharing with anyone you know who may be contemplating terminating their life - though ultimately free will of course.
On another tack - we may well be here as an experiment, but would the same not apply?
 
G

Gertrudes

Guest
This is by no means an easy subject, and thank you for the link Palinurus, I will definitely have a look at that.

happyliza said:
Trying to be as objective as I can - isn't taking your own life just that?
I don't think so, at least not from my current understanding. There is the context in which you are deciding to take your own life. Suicide can be degrading, lonely, and it is a last resource for an hopeless feeling of having no other way out. This is far from the supportive environment in which these people are helped in taking their lives. Many of them have pondered about this for years and it is a rational choice they make after having shared their thoughts and feelings with others.

happyliza said:
All live is an opportunity of learning and lessons. Many come here reluctantly (naturally), others without much say in the matter maybe. Either way is our life not a gift for our evolution - even OP's? For that reason as we were given our life/existence is it really our business to destroy it? Is that not STS thinking? (even though altruistic reasons may be sincerely believed by those ending their life prematurely).

Another important aspect to consider, purely my opinion, is that the 'miraculous' can happen right up to our last breath. Perhaps the 'condition' we have is itself a lesson? Perhaps the lesson is for others to learn how to be STO from your 'condition'. We cannot see the big picture, nor remember what, if anything, may have been pre-agreed? Maybe that last lesson - in your final seconds of awareness/experience/suffering is the BIGGEST lesson of your whole life. Who are we to know? Who are we to assume?
We can't know whether, say, a certain health condition has been pre agreed, nor whether it will be the biggest lesson of our lives, and yes, things can indeed change until our very last breath, or not. However, the unknown is present in everything in life and, as I see it, this is about being entitled to our ability to CHOOSE in face of that.
It may not be the "right" choice, but it is still that person's choice. It is true that maybe I could learn from my condition, but is it right to dictate such lesson for another person who wishes to die and can't do so with dignity and support? If the person has taken the lesson he/she thinks was due, I think that it would be compassionate to help him/her in her choice.

How the choice is made, however, is something that can, and probably should be discussed at length by the person with both his loved ones as well as experienced therapists so that the root of the wish can be assessed in order to better help the individual make the choice.

happyliza said:
There are many elements to consider, let alone any karmic consequences.
How do we know that in 5th density we will not actually regret that decision? A lost opportunity that was unknown to us at the time?
We don't know whether we'll regret the decision in 5th density, there is no way to know that until we get there, and that applies to every single decision we make, hence we have to rely on our own 3D reasoning. We can apply certain considerations to ourselves, but we can't really apply them to others who choose to see differently.

I don't claim to be right, far from it, like you I'm just exploring this highly sensitive subject. In any case, perhaps seeing the documentary may shed for you a different light into this happyliza?
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
I guess it all depends on why one commits suicide. I think that such a decision can be made very responsibly, thoughtfully and with concern for others. I also think that people should have the right to make such a choice. If there is karma involved, then so be it; if not, even better. Even if there IS karma involved, no one has the right to take the choice away from another.
 
H

Hildegarda

Guest
Laura said:
Even if there IS karma involved, no one has the right to take the choice away from another.
While that is true, it can also be countered by a question of how much of a choice a certain action is when it becomes part of a culture.

Those who disagree with the idea of assisted suicide often cite possible abuse of the system by unscrupulous individuals or process errors. Both of these may result in people dying who otherwise would have chosen to live. The same line of an argument applies to the question of death penalty. It has been said that the morality of a law should be evaluated on how ugly it can get it the law is abused, and there's IMO a lot of truth to it.

But I have been thinking really hard lately about how it isn't the extremes but the mainstreams that truly determine reality. Following that, if an isolated and rare individual decides in advance to end his/her life due to serious illness, it doesn't go beyond personal choice, remaining a social non-issue and therefore nobody else's business. But if that becomes an accepted norm, it is bound to change society in a way that I cannot comprehend. I can begin to have some idea about it if I think about some other issues in which a prevalent culture has changed within the last few generations. Some of the more mundane ones would be breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding, antidepressant use, clothing choices. Just as it is weird now to wear traditional long skirts, what if it becomes socially discouraged to persist in living beyond certain age or certain state of health?

There are historical precedents and fictional accounts of more death-centered cultures, so perhaps something can be learned from them. Whatever the ultimate answer, it is likely to go beyond personal choice.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
While reading this, it suddenly dawned on me there's another famous movie --based on a play-- about this issue: Whose Life Is It Anyway?

imdb said:
Ken Harrison is an artist that makes sculptures. One day he is involved in a car accident, and is paralyzed from his neck. All he can do is talk, and he wants to die. In hospital he make friends with some of the staff, and they support him when he goes to trial to be allowed to die. - Written by Eva Kristin Berntzen
wikipedia (film) said:
After a car accident, sculptor Ken Harrison becomes a quadriplegic who sues for the right to end his life, no longer able to create art, make love or have any semblance of a normal existence. He hires a lawyer (Bob Balaban) who, reluctantly at first, represents Harrison while knowing that he is trying to win his client a death sentence.

Staunchly opposed to euthanasia is a by-the-book hospital administrator (John Cassavetes), who is determined to keep his patient alive even against his wishes, and sympathetic doctor (Christine Lahti), who develops personal feelings for Harrison. She wants to keep him alive, even though Harrison's girlfriend has accepted his decision.

A young orderly (Thomas Carter) and nurse (Kaki Hunter) do what they can to keep Harrison's spirits up, even wheeling him to a hospital basement where they treat him to reggae music and marijuana. In the end, though, it is up to a judge (Kenneth McMillan) whether the patient has a moral, ethical and legal right to choose to die.
Relevant info:

_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Clark_%28writer%29

_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whose_Life_Is_It_Anyway%3F_%28play%29
_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whose_Life_Is_It_Anyway%3F_%281981_film%29

_https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/whose-life-is-it-anyway/id375574191
_http://www.amazon.com/Whose-Life-Is-It-Anyway/dp/B000N3SRP4
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Hildegarda said:
Laura said:
Even if there IS karma involved, no one has the right to take the choice away from another.
While that is true, it can also be countered by a question of how much of a choice a certain action is when it becomes part of a culture.

Those who disagree with the idea of assisted suicide often cite possible abuse of the system by unscrupulous individuals or process errors. Both of these may result in people dying who otherwise would have chosen to live. The same line of an argument applies to the question of death penalty. It has been said that the morality of a law should be evaluated on how ugly it can get it the law is abused, and there's IMO a lot of truth to it.

But I have been thinking really hard lately about how it isn't the extremes but the mainstreams that truly determine reality. Following that, if an isolated and rare individual decides in advance to end his/her life due to serious illness, it doesn't go beyond personal choice, remaining a social non-issue and therefore nobody else's business. But if that becomes an accepted norm, it is bound to change society in a way that I cannot comprehend. I can begin to have some idea about it if I think about some other issues in which a prevalent culture has changed within the last few generations. Some of the more mundane ones would be breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding, antidepressant use, clothing choices. Just as it is weird now to wear traditional long skirts, what if it becomes socially discouraged to persist in living beyond certain age or certain state of health?

There are historical precedents and fictional accounts of more death-centered cultures, so perhaps something can be learned from them. Whatever the ultimate answer, it is likely to go beyond personal choice.
Yes, indeed. This is another angle and a troubling one. It's like the homosexual issue which never should have become an issue because people's sex lives are their business.

I would suggest that in many cultures at many times, it was accepted to choose to die for the "benefit of the tribe" so as not to create problems of one sort or another. It was also accepted that one could choose to die for any of a number of personal reasons, and it was just a natural idea that prevailed in the culture.

I was always struck by the fact that ancient cultures depended on their rex sacrorum, sacred king, who had to be perfect in many ways so as to be the example and representative of his people to the gods for their safety and benefits. If he became old and lost his mojo, he was killed and replaced or retired and replaced.

I was rather struck by the way Elizabeth I chose to take her own life when she realized that she was losing her grip on things. I even think that Caesar "chose" to be assassinated and possibly JFK, too.
 
G

Gertrudes

Guest
Hildegarda said:
Those who disagree with the idea of assisted suicide often cite possible abuse of the system by unscrupulous individuals or process errors. Both of these may result in people dying who otherwise would have chosen to live. The same line of an argument applies to the question of death penalty. It has been said that the morality of a law should be evaluated on how ugly it can get it the law is abused, and there's IMO a lot of truth to it.
That is true. A sad example can be seen in the "Planned parenthood" and "pro choice" movements that are the origin of many abortion clinics amongst the black american communities, hiding the real intention of decimating african americans and other so called "lesser" races. More on this here.

Hildegarda said:
But if that becomes an accepted norm, it is bound to change society in a way that I cannot comprehend.
Indeed, and thank you for pointing that out. That's the problem isn't it, becoming a norm. I wouldn't know what to suggest to tackle the possible normalisation of assisted death within our current society, one can only speculate, and even then...
In a different world we wouldn't stop seeing the forest by the trees and the choice of dying would still be taken for what it is, a decision with an impact that we can't pretend to foresee, we wouldn't end up banalising an act that is anything but. More than that, it wouldn't be used for vicious purposes.

We would need a "middle ground" where people are educated about the pros, cons, the real impact of the choice, where the seriousness of the issue is handled with sensitivity, integrity and care. With real humaneness.
 

SeekinTruth

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Lots of food for thought on this difficult subject. In a healthy culture/society, it would be easier to create ways to handle these issues.
 

Gary

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Laura said:
Hildegarda said:
Laura said:
Even if there IS karma involved, no one has the right to take the choice away from another.
While that is true, it can also be countered by a question of how much of a choice a certain action is when it becomes part of a culture.

Those who disagree with the idea of assisted suicide often cite possible abuse of the system by unscrupulous individuals or process errors. Both of these may result in people dying who otherwise would have chosen to live. The same line of an argument applies to the question of death penalty. It has been said that the morality of a law should be evaluated on how ugly it can get it the law is abused, and there's IMO a lot of truth to it.

But I have been thinking really hard lately about how it isn't the extremes but the mainstreams that truly determine reality. Following that, if an isolated and rare individual decides in advance to end his/her life due to serious illness, it doesn't go beyond personal choice, remaining a social non-issue and therefore nobody else's business. But if that becomes an accepted norm, it is bound to change society in a way that I cannot comprehend. I can begin to have some idea about it if I think about some other issues in which a prevalent culture has changed within the last few generations. Some of the more mundane ones would be breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding, antidepressant use, clothing choices. Just as it is weird now to wear traditional long skirts, what if it becomes socially discouraged to persist in living beyond certain age or certain state of health?

There are historical precedents and fictional accounts of more death-centered cultures, so perhaps something can be learned from them. Whatever the ultimate answer, it is likely to go beyond personal choice.
Yes, indeed. This is another angle and a troubling one. It's like the homosexual issue which never should have become an issue because people's sex lives are their business.

I would suggest that in many cultures at many times, it was accepted to choose to die for the "benefit of the tribe" so as not to create problems of one sort or another. It was also accepted that one could choose to die for any of a number of personal reasons, and it was just a natural idea that prevailed in the culture.

I was always struck by the fact that ancient cultures depended on their rex sacrorum, sacred king, who had to be perfect in many ways so as to be the example and representative of his people to the gods for their safety and benefits. If he became old and lost his mojo, he was killed and replaced or retired and replaced.

I was rather struck by the way Elizabeth I chose to take her own life when she realized that she was losing her grip on things. I even think that Caesar "chose" to be assassinated and possibly JFK, too.
Or made a conscious decision for the ending of his/her life "for the benefit of the tribe" when appropriate.



Reflection On Euthanasia: Western And African Ntomba Perspectives On The Death Of A Chief


Deogratias Biembe Bikopo, and Louis-Jacques Van Bogaert, 2009


Largely, the concept of energy or vital force, as first analysed by Placide Tempels in Bantu Philosophy, permeates most African ontology systems, worldviews and life views. The Ntomba Chief is chosen because of his above average vital force. This puts him in the position of intermediary between the Supreme Being, the ancestors, and his subordinates. The waning of his energy is incompatible with his position because his energy is that of his tribe. When installed, he takes an oath that, when this happens, he has to accept mohilo, the 'hastening of death'. In the Chief's case, the hastening of death is not intended to relieve his pain, as it would be with other creatures. The Chief's dying a natural death would result in the loss of the entire community's vital force. Therefore, he has to be killed ritually to avoid that risk. That the Chief agrees to be killed – via a form of advanced directive – poses an ethical dilemma for a Western observer. From the Ntomba perspective, however, where the energy is being, and being is energy, it is the only way to preserve and protect the community's raison d'être.

http://indigenouspeoplesissues.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4259:reflection-on-euthanasia-western-and-african-ntomba-perspectives-on-the-death-of-a-chief&catid=55:africa-indigenous-peoples&Itemid=77


The elderly gentleman I work for (albeit part-time) and who does not want to live (and others in a similar position) - as explained in more detail on the Euthansia thread - could argue they are acting for the "benefit of the tribe" (family / society). He had to sell his home to finance his placement in a residential care home, has no quality of life (as he perceives it) and is sitting in front of a tv for numerous hours a day. Ok, so who benefits from this system? - well, private carehome companies, and Big Pharma for starters. The unneccessary suffering that I see may also feed those higher up the energetic food chain too perhaps. To get some balance though, I see some severley disabled folk who have such a zest for life, it is incredibly humbling.

If we really 'cared' for our most vulnerable, they would have more quality of life. With the 'care system' as a profit making service industry; compassion and dignity are humane qualities that don't look well on the balance sheet. If we identified and faced up to our Western fear of 'death' also, we may see that 'walking off in the blizzard' when deemed appropriate, as some indigenous laplanders do - is really being of 'service to others', and is just part of the natural order.

Surely the most fundamental point is that a 'person' should have the choice of whether to live or die - to exercise their free will. I feel this topic highlights the Third Force principle quite well, in that each case is unique and it is the specific situation that counts. Because of that specificness, any generic ruling can be misused and/or abused, which seeds cultural conditioning as a consequence. History shows us that 'good, normal' people can be easily manipulated to accepting all sorts of 'euthansia based', caring solutions - for the greater good of the country (planet?) especially it times of severe stress - like we are increasingly living in now!
 
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