Because media coverage of suicide could easily lead to copycat suicides, in 2008 the World Health Organization issued a long list of guidelines for journalists. It advises them to: “Avoid language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a solution to problems”, “Avoid providing detailed information about the site of a completed or attempted suicide”, and to “Show due consideration for people bereaved by suicide”.
Campaigns for assisted suicide and euthanasia ignore this. In addition to sympathetic headlines, media organisations are producing YouTube videos which paint a glowing picture of assisted dying, illustrate clearly how it is carried out, and draw teary relatives into the story. In recent months there have been numerous examples. A 29-year-old California woman, Brittany Maynard, made two videos (here and here) with the help of the assisted suicide lobby group Compassion & Choices which were seen by millions of people, before she died through assisted suicide in Oregon. Australia’s SBS network recently filmed a Belgian doctor giving an elderly, depressed woman a lethal barbiturate. She died on camera.
The latest development is a 21-minute video made by The Economist and part-funded by Virgin Unite, a charity financed by British billionaire Richard Branson, about a 24-year-old Belgian woman suffering from severe depression who has asked for euthanasia. Anticipating objections, the first frame reads: “Warning. There are some scenes in this film which some viewers may find distressing.” It is a necessary precaution.
Although outwardly normal, Emily is severely troubled. There is a graphic scene in which she displays the scars on her arms from self-mutilation. In another, three doctors describe to her exactly how she will die, and another in which a psychiatrist explains magisterially why euthanasia may be suitable for her. More.
Wondering what government will do with the money they save from mental health care …
Reality check: This is like abortion except the woman is the “problem” unborn child. Aka: What goes around, comes around.