In Europe and in parts of the United States, Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) has quickly become an accepted means to kill one’s self when facing a terminal disease. Proponents broadcast the death of patients on television in not so subtle propaganda attempts. This trend features the intentional killing, couched as assisted suicide, of the weak and elderly for the world’s entertainment, glamorized by European clinics and doctors.
Recently, UK media entrepreneur Alki David broadcast the suicide of a 62-year old Russian, Nikolai Ivanisovich, via live stream on BattleCam.com. The saga turned out to be a twisted stunt, intended to raise revenue and publicity for David’s website. 165,000 viewers tuned in for what they thought was the suicide of a critically ill man suffering from a brain tumor. Ivanisovich did not die on live television, yet the play symbolizes the increasing devaluing of the ailing and the disabled.
Ludwig Minelli, a lawyer and self-described humanitarian from Switzerland, opened the first of his Dignitas suicide clinics in 1998. Deaths facilitated by Minelli at Dignitas clinics have aired as documentaries on London’s Sky TV and BBC2. However, he leaves unaddressed the suffering associated with these deadly choices, purposefully ignoring the pain endured during the murder process, including the patients’ cries for water. By unapologetically boasting his achievements of helping more than 1,000 people from all over the world hasten their own deaths, Minelli has transformed his native Zurich into the undeniable world capital of assisted suicide and has cornered the market on what is called “suicide hire.”
PAS opens the door to a myriad of circumstances in which the person suffering is simply seen as a burden to family members. Patients who do not have terminal diseases, but progressive ones, have already utilized Assisted Suicide to escape the perceived potential suffering if they continued living in their disabled state. A Belgian couple committed suicide together when the husband became paralyzed and the wife could not bear to live without him. Parents of UK rugby player Daniel James took him to a Dignitas clinic in 2008 after a paralyzing rugby accident. His parents claimed James was ‘not prepared to live what he felt was a second-class existence’ as a disabled person. As the use of PAS spreads with cost of health care increases, the pressure on the ailing and disabled to seek PAS will intensify.
Broadcasting the suicides of the disabled and dying (dying is not dead) as voyeuristic entertainment renders death a spectator sport, allowing the masses to enjoy the death of their fellow human beings. Forging a murder under the veil of suicide for a profit is reprehensible. Broadcasting suicide diminishes Life to the value of what onlookers will pay for the price of admission. Until the world realizes that human Life is valuable in all stages, perceptions on Life and death will be shaped by those willing to exploit the destruction of human Life.