BBC to Show Businessman Kill Himself in Assisted Suicide Documentary

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 28, 2016   |   1:05PM   |   London, England

Just as it did with abortion, the mainstream media is latching on to euthanasia advocates efforts to promote assisted suicide.

In 2014, many mainstream news outlets promoted the tragic case of Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old with terminal brain cancer who committed suicide in Oregon. Now, in Britain, a group that opposes euthanasia is accusing the BBC of being a “cheerleader” for assisted suicide. The anti-euthanasia group Care Not Killing made the comment in response to the international broadcasting corporation’s plans to show a British businessman’s suicide on television in February, according to The Telegraph.

“We are deeply disturbed by this,” said Alistair Thompson, a spokesman for Care Not Killing. “This has the capacity to encourage others to take their own lives.”

By showing the film, which is sympathetic to euthanasia, the BBC has become “a cheerleader for assisted suicide,” Thompson said.

The new 90-minute documentary follows 57-year-old businessman Simon Binner as he travels to Switzerland to kill himself at an assisted suicide clinic in 2015, the report states. Binner had motor neuron disease; and in 2015, he announced on LinkedIn his plans to commit suicide rather than live with the disease, according to the report. The documentary is scheduled to air on Feb. 10.

The documentary shows Binner’s wife, Debbie, struggling with her husband’s decision to kill himself. At one point, she said she thought her husband was wrong to want to end his life; but later she changed her mind, according to the report.

Later, the documentary “shows the 57-year-old lying on a bed in the Swiss clinic, before opening a valve that allows a powerful sedative to enter his veins. While the moment of dying is not shown, there is a fleeting glimpse of Mr Binner’s dead body, as his friends and family sit weeping. The camera then cuts to the lid of his coffin being screwed down,” according to the report.

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Binner ended his life on Oct. 19 at the Eternal Spirit clinic in Basel, Switzerland, the report states.

“The BBC … has consistently failed to present euthanasia and assisted suicide with the objectivity required of a national broadcaster,” Care Not Killing said on its website.

On its website, the group pointed out that the BBC appears to be going against its own editorial guidelines, which caution against promotion of suicide: “Factual reporting and fictional portrayal of suicide, attempted suicide and self-harm have the potential to make such actions appear possible, and even appropriate, to the vulnerable.”

The threat to vulnerable individuals is exactly what Thompson’s group is concerned about. According to Care Not Killing, assisted suicide threatens the lives of vulnerable elderly and disabled people who often feel pressured by finances or fear that they will be a burden to others; it’s also a recipe for elder abuse.

The mainstream media influences public thought about the issue, and the new documentary could easily influence vulnerable people to end their lives prematurely, rather than seek the care that they may need, the group said.