On 10th February, the BBC aired a disturbing documentary entitled “How to Die: Simon’s Choice”. The documentary followed Simon Binner a 57-year-old with motor neurone disease in the months before his assisted suicide at a Swiss suicide clinic last October.
The disturbing documentary has rightly been criticised by Care Not Killing, who said that it “risks skewing what people think about assisted suicide and sidelines 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. 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”.
This programme was yet another example of disability portrayal which promotes the idea that death is preferable to being disabled. There is nothing new in this; the film industry has been trotting out this message for years, who can forget Born on the 4th of July with Tom Cruise!
Dominick Evans a wheelchair user, who describes himself, as an “activist, filmmaker and speaker” has recently published an interesting article which discusses disability portrayal and assisted dying.
Dominick a New Yorker says, “I believe that if Hollywood showed more disabled actors, particularly wheelchair users, who we never see, and the stories were more reflective of the disabled experience, then people would believe disabled lives were worth living. There is a huge difference between a debilitating illness, such as brain cancer, in the end stages, and a person with a disability who is not dying. You can find success, love, fulfillment even if you happen to use a wheelchair. It is not the end of the world, and these films need to stop scaring people into thinking it is. We cannot change the narrative about disability when these kinds of films continued to be made”.
You can read the full article “Hollywood promotes the idea it is better to be dead than disabled” by clicking here Dominick’s artcle