Concerns raised over suicide shown on television

 Professionals working with terminally-ill patients have protested over a television programme screened last night which showed a man committing suicide. In the Sky TV documentary, motor neurone disease patient Craig Ewert, 59, a father of two, from Harrogate, Yorkshire, was shown drinking a mixture of sedatives and then dying, after turning off his own ventilator at the Dignitas euthanasia clinic in Switzerland.

The programme makers defended the film saying it gave an "educated insight into the decisions some people have to make".

Mr Ewert's wife, Mary, said the film was about "facing the end of life honestly". She said it had helped her come to terms with her husband's death, which happened in September 2008.

But Dr Peter Saunders, director of the campaign group Care Not Killing, said the show was a "cynical attempt to boost television ratings".

He said: "There is a growing appetite from the British public for increasingly bizarre reality shows. We'd see it as a new milestone. It glorifies assisted dying when there is a very active campaign by the pro-suicide lobby to get the issue back into Parliament. The danger is that we start to believe in a story that there is such a thing as a life not worth living."

Care Not Killing opposes assisted suicide and campaigns for better care for those living with terminal illness or disability.

Lady Finlay, a professor of palliative care, said: "This programme is broadcasting something which is very private, which is someone dying and which is illegal in this country. I think it also perpetuates a myth that, somehow, to have a good death you have to end your own life and that is just completely untrue."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Commons he was personally opposed to assisted suicide. Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, he said: "I believe that it is necessary to ensure that there is never a case in this country where a sick or elderly person feels under pressure to agree to an assisted death or somehow feels it is the expected thing to do. That is why I have always opposed legislation for assisted deaths."

Share this story