Not Dead Yet Activists protest Me Before You in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Metro news published an excellent report on the Not Dead Yet protest of the movie Me Before You. The Metro wrote (this article was edited for length):

A new Hollywood film depicting a romance between a quadriplegic and his caretaker that ends in the man choosing suicide over life in a wheelchair is being denounced by the disabled community. 
Two dozen activists with disabilities and their supporters protested outside a South Philadelphia movie theater Monday against the film "Me Before You," calling it "poisonous" and saying it could encourage suicide among people with disabilities. 
“As of Saturday, June 4, I have lived with a spinal cord injury for 15 years,” said activist German Parodi, 32, who uses a wheelchair and became disabled after he was shot in the throat during a carjacking. “There’s no reason for us to kill ourselves.” 
The activists in Philly sang and chanted for more than an hour outside the UA Riverview 17, one of two theaters in the city that is showing the film. They were affiliated with Not Dead Yet, a disability rights group that is organizing protests nationwide and protested the film’s red-carpet premiere in Hollywood. 
For those participating in the protest, the story of the film is a painful parallel to their own experiences. 
“I’ve struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts,” said Anomie Fatale, 28, a musician and performer who became disabled at 20 due to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. “Putting that out there in the mainstream is dangerous. … It could kill someone.” 
Fatale said she has quadriparesis, severe muscle weakness affecting all four limbs. 
“You are suggesting, romanticizing, glorifying, encouraging suicide. That is a thing I can’t be okay with,” Fatale said. “I’m worried about young, impressionable teenagers. I want to put the right message out there.” 
Director Thea Sharrock recently defended the film against the criticisms of ableism, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “I didn’t quite anticipate this” and that the criticisms arose from “a fundamental misunderstanding of what the message is.”
Activists said the film barely portrays any characters who disagree with the protagonist’s decision to end his life in Switzerland at ..., a real assisted suicide organization. 
“There is product placement for an assisted suicide organization in this film,” said Clark Matthews, 34, a filmmaker who uses a wheelchair. “Can you name the last romantic film with a disabled protagonist? The first one in decades, and of course he kills himself.” 
There is also no depiction in the film of the community of people with disabilities, which activists credited with helping them live their own lives. 
“In the past five years, I started meeting other people with disabilities. I stopped feeling ashamed. These people made me feel like I’m not a burden,” said Liam Dougherty, 26, who uses a wheelchair due to Friedreich's ataxia, a progressive neural disorder. 
“It’s a road I could have gone down,” Dougherty said of the story depicted in the film. “I’m so glad I have a supportive organization that made me realize I shouldn’t have gone down that path.”

Congratulations to the NDY activists in Philadelphia who effectively got their message out.

Action Alert: Protest Disability Snuff Film “Me Before You”!


ACTION ALERT: 

PROTEST DISABILITY SNUFF FILM ME BEFORE YOU! 

WHEN: JUNE 3, 2016, 0NE HOUR BEFORE A SHOWING OF ME BEFORE YOU
WHERE: YOUR LOCAL MOVIE THEATER, MANY CITIES, USA & WORLDWIDE
WHAT: PEACEFULLY DISTRIBUTE A LEAFLET (TO BE POSTED ON NDY WEBSITE) 
WHY: TO OPPOSE ABLEISM & THE FILM’S MESSAGE THAT DISABLED PEOPLE ARE
BETTER OFF DEAD (AND OTHERS ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT US) 

“Me Before You” is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to grossly misrepresent the lived experience of the majority of disabled people. In the film, a young man becomes disabled, falls in love with his ‘carer’ and they have an incredible 6 months together. Despite her opposition, however, our hero does the “honorable” thing by killing himself at the Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas – so she can move on and he is no longer a burden to her. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, “Me Before You” is little more than a disability snuff film, giving audiences the message that if you’re a disabled person, you’re better off dead. 

WAYS YOU CAN PROTEST:

  • Two or more people can peacefully hand out a leaflet that will be posted on the Not Dead Yet website at notdeadyet.org
  • Send a press release or use NDY’s release (coming soon) to send to your local media. 
  • Join the worldwide social media Thunderclap
  • Twitter using #MeBeforeYou #LiveBoldly #MeBeforeEuthanasia #MeBeforeAbleism 
  • Share the articles linked below with friends and colleagues. 

For more information, see the following articles: 

For More Information or to discuss your plans, contact John Kelly (jkelly@notdeadyet.org) or Diane Coleman (dcoleman@notdeadyet.org).

Switzerland assisted suicides jump 34% in 2015

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Swissinfo reported that there were 782 assisted suicide deaths at the Exit suicide clinic in 2015 up from 583 assisted suicide deaths in 2014. In 2014, the total number of assisted suicide deaths in Switzerland, including deaths at Dignitas and the Eternal Spirit clinic, was around 836. 

The data indicates that there was a 34% increase in assisted suicide deaths in 2015. Combined with the 27% increase in assisted suicide deaths in 2014, deaths at the suicide clinic have increased by more than 70% in two years.

The article indicated that more women than men are dying by assisted suicide:

Of the deceased, 55% were women and 45% men, 
The average age of each person at the time of death was 77.4. The patients lived mainly in the cantons of Zurich, Bern, Aargau, St Gallen, Basel City and Basel Country

In May, 2014, a Swiss suicide clinic extended assisted suicide to healthy elderly people who are living with physical or psychological pain. This decision has led to an increase in deaths.

In August 2015 a healthy depressed British woman died by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85 year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.

In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland. His autopsy showed that he had a wrong diagnosis.

A 2014 Swiss study found that people who died at Swiss suicide clinics had no underlying illness in 16% of the cases.

In response to the increased assisted suicide deaths at the Swiss suicide clinics, the German Bundestag voted in November 2015 to prohibit the commercialization of assisted suicide.

Hollywood Promotes The Idea It Is Better To Be Dead Than Disabled

This article was written by Dominic Evans and published on his blog on Feb 11, 2016. 

Few films make me as upset as The Sea Inside. It has been years since the first time I saw the 2004 Alejandro Amenábar vehicle, which stars Javier Bardem, as a real-life disabled man named Ramón Sampedro, a Spanish man who believed it was better to be dead than disabled. Rather than portraying disability in a way that would open up dialogue about why disabled people feel that way, and addressing the greater issue of how society views disability, the film is a testament as to why non-disabled people should pity the disabled community, especially those who are as disabled as Ramón Sampedro, and support his decision to end his life, even if his disability was not fatal, which it was not.

We look to film and television for how to treat others, how to understand others, and to learn about stories about people we don’t actually know. The majority of non-disabled people do not know someone with a disability. This is in spite of disability be the world’s largest minority community with numbers between 1 billion worldwide. A lot of this is because disabled people have been kept away, out of public essentially sequestered to the back bedroom, until the early to mid-20th century, when disabled activists started fighting for their rights to go to school, find employment, and anything else non-disabled counterparts were doing. If not stuck in the back bedroom, others were performing in freak shows, the objects of pity and awe…never of understanding or relatability.

Around a century has passed, and society still doesn’t know how to deal with disabled people. Hollywood doesn’t know how to tell disabled stories, so it falls back upon tired tropes that often involve pity or awe. This trope is so common, many activists look out for it in any new forms of media that includes disability. Even as the world becomes more tolerant of other differences, the pity narrative for disabled characters continues. The Sea Inside came out over a decade ago, and yet we still have not evolved enough beyond the harmful message embedded in this film.

Link to the full article

Healthy retired British nurse dies by assisted suicide in Switzerland

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Switzerland suicide juggernaut rolls on, now claiming the life of a healthy retired nurse from the UK. Gill Pharoah, who was a supporter of euthanasia, told the media that she went to the Swiss suicide clinic to avoid old age.

The Care Not Killing Alliance called the suicide death:

Deeply troubling. 
It sends out a chilling message about how society values and looks after elderly people in the UK. 
It seeks the introduction of death on demand for those who fear becoming a burden, even if they are otherwise fit and healthy. This is an abhorrent development, but it reveals a truth that some who argue for a change in the law really believe there should be no safeguards or restrictions on assisted killing.

Cases, such as this one, appear to be promoted by the media to pressure the British government to legalize assisted suicide.

Previous Britons to die at a Swiss suicide clinic include a double assisted suicide of elderly cousins who feared living alone and an 83 year-old man with dementia, These cases are often connected to a suicide lobby leader who argues for the acceptance of assisted suicide of people who are not terminally ill.

Former British Psychiatrist admits to assisting 7 suicides

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The British Daily Mail  has reported that Colin Brewer, a former psychiatrist who lost his right to practise medicine in 2006, has admitted to assisting 7 suicide deaths at the Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland in the past two years. Brewer also admitted that only one of the people was terminally ill.
The Daily Mail reported that Brewer made these revelations in his book. The article stated:

Among the seven people were Marjorie, a former businesswoman in her nineties, who lived in severe pain that could not be diagnosed or treated. 
A man in his sixties called Eddie, a retired professional, was going blind and wanted to die before he lost his sight.

Then there was Henry, in his eighties and with early Alzheimer’s, and Charlotte, a WI chairman with Alzheimer’s, who wanted to die before she had to leave her home.

Link to the full article

Few Swiss doctors will participate in assist suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A study published today by the Swiss Academy of Sciences found that the majority of Swiss doctors are unwilling to participate in assisted suicide while the majority approved of assisted suicide.

The Swiss Academy of Sciences sent questionnaires to 4800 Swiss physicians and received only 1318 responses (27%). Due to the low response rate the results of the survey may not be accurate.

Link to the full article