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.

Germany officially opens the door to assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The German Bundestag has approved assisted suicide for altruistic reasons. The law is similar to the Swiss law except that it prohibits the commercialization of assisted suicide.

The fact is that the Swiss law permits assisted suicide for altruistic reasons, but the groups that facilitate assisted suicide actually developed over time, rather than the law simply permitting it. Now that Germany officially permits assisted suicide, the question is how will it develop over time. The German RT news reported:

MPs in Germany have rejected a bill that would have made commercial assisted suicides legal, instead passing a new law punishing such practices with up to three years imprisonment, even if doctors perform the procedure to relieve suffering. 
The bill, which was upheld with 360 out of 602 votes, criminalizes organizations that assist patients in terminating their own lives for profit. It is meant to prevent the commercialization of the procedure as a “suicide business.” 
However, single instances of suicide assistance – by a doctor or relative – do not contradict the new law.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is concerned that now that the door is officially opened to assisted suicide, how long will it take for the courts or future parliaments to expand the law?

Germany has not legalized euthanasia.

Germany's Jewish community opposes assisted suicide, while the nation debates the issue

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The German Bundestag is scheduled to debate four assisted suicide proposals on Friday November 6. The Handelsblatt Global Edition reported, in a mostly pro-euthanasia article, that the four proposals range from complete liberalization to completely protecting people from euthanasia and assisted suicide. According to the article:

It’s encouraging how openly parliament is discussing the subject. Four motions will be on the agenda on November 6, when the Bundestag votes on how assisted suicide will be handled in the future. Proposals range from drastic penalties for anyone who assists in a suicide to complete liberalization of euthanasia, even for those who are not sick.

Germany's Health Minister, for instance, has stated that he supports a ban on the business of assisted suicide, such as occurs at the suicide clinics in Switzerland.

On Monday, Germany's Jewish community stated their opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide. According to the Jewish Times:

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said Monday that there must be no liberalization of assisted suicide in the country.

Central Council President Josef Schuster, a physician and member of the Central Ethics Committee of the German Medical Association, said:

“Seriously ill and elderly people should not be pushed to commit suicide,” 
“Assisted suicide must not become a regular service provided by doctors, an alternative to care for the dying,”

Schuster urged more support for hospice and palliative care.

In December 2014, the German Ethics Council rejected a change in the assisted suicide law. In September 2014, the memorial to the T-4 euthanasia program victims opened in Berlin.

The German Medical Association opposes euthanasia.

Further information:

The narcissism of assisted suicide

This article was published on August 11, 2015 by Spiked.

A shocking case that shows that assisted suicide is about more than alleviating suffering.

Dr Kevin Yuill

Dr Kevin Yuill

By Dr Kevin Yuill, an academic and an author.

In his sharply observed book The Culture of Narcissism, the American social critic Christopher Lasch remarked that, in modern life, ‘The usual defences against the ravages of age – identification with ethical or artistic values beyond one’s immediate interests, intellectual curiosity, the consoling emotional warmth derived from happy relationships in the past – can do nothing for the narcissist’. 

In a generation that has forgotten that it stands in the midst of a long line of past and future generations, Lasch noted, many live ‘for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal wellbeing, health, and psychic security’.

As Lasch later lamented, his exploration of narcissism was widely misunderstood. In his writing, narcissism referred not to a confident self-centredness, but to the inability of an entire culture to see beyond the corners of itself, to understand the self’s place in history, or to believe in its ability rationally to control the future. Lasch claimed that the survival of the self – not self-improvement – had become the highest aspiration.

There is more than a whiff of narcissistic survivalism in the openness of many Western societies to assisted suicide. This was best symbolised by the trip Gill Pharaoh, a healthy, 75-year-old retired nurse, took to the LifeCircle suicide clinic in Switzerland. Pharaoh, who died on 21 July this year, was not ill, but wished to die. She noted in her final blog that she wanted ‘people to remember me as I now am – as a bit worn around the edges but still recognisably me!’.

This ‘snapshot’ sentiment, whereby we preserve ourselves for posterity, is surely illusory. We can neither control how people remember us nor can we preserve a moment in time. There is no perfect moment or ideal physical presence, no ‘real me’, because life is a process, constantly unfolding. We continually learn and change, and the ‘authentic’ self cannot be captured at one specific time. Nor is a ‘perfect’ or merely ‘good’ death meaningful to the deceased. Killing oneself does not preserve anything – it destroys the prospect of further experiences and interactions.

Link to the full article

Healthy woman who dies by assisted suicide in Switzerland was likely depressed.

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

In September 2008, Lady Warnock, one of Britain's leading moral philosophers stated in an interview that:

Pensioners in mental decline are "wasting people's lives" because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain. 
She insisted that there was "nothing wrong" with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society. 
She hoped people will soon be "licensed to put others down" if they are unable to look after themselves.

The recent case of a physically healthy 75-year-old retired British nurse who died by assisted suicide in Switzerland further opens the door to pressure on the older people to die when she stated in her blog:

I have always suspected that an ideal shelf life for many people is about 70 years. 

I am not a psychiatrist or a mental health professional, but Gil Pharoah, even though she states that she is not depressed, seems likely to be depressed when she stated in her blog:

I can no longer walk the distances I used to enjoy so the happy hours spent exploring the streets of London are just a memory now. 
I cannot do the garden with the enthusiasm I once had and I find fifteen minutes is more than enough time spent weeding or digging. Even that short time can result in a day on the sofa or a visit to the osteopath. 
My tinnitus is a big distraction. My hearing loss is helped by using hearing aids, but the tinnitus seems to enjoy competition, and seems to increase in volume, to meet the increased external noise, so I find it impossible to talk in a group of more than four people, and often have to activate the subtitles on the TV. I do not enjoy the carnivals like Notting Hill or Gay Pride which I once so loved. 
I do not have any desire to travel any more –there is nowhere I want to visit enough to spend hours in an aeroplane or airport. 
I have always loved cooking but I find it an effort now and prefer to have a couple of friends for lunch rather than a large late dinner party. Not to mention the hundred and one other minor irritations like being unable to stand for long, carry a heavy shopping bag, run for a bus, remember the names of books I have read, or am reading, or their authors. 
And I have a number of aches and pains which restrict my pleasure in life generally although none are totally incapacitating.

John Southall, Pharoah's life partner, stated to ITV news that:

I had plenty of notice, so it's not like it is perhaps for most couples when one dies unexpectedly. 
Gill has always said she would never grow old. Her longest-standing friends say when she was in her thirties she said fifty would be enough. And then she said as time went on, sixty. Then it became seventy. And she got to seventy and started taking it more seriously.

These statements represent a dreariness towards living that is likely related to depression.

Link to the full article