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How To Die: Simon’s Choice

January 27, 2016

The final moments of assisted suicide campaigner Simon Binner are to be shown in a BBC2 documentary next month.

Filmed over the last few months of Binner’s life after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, How to Die: Simon’s Choice explores what the BBC called the “unimaginable decision” he took.

The story is filmed against the backdrop of a parliamentary debate held last year about the issue and follows the arguments made by both sides.

Binner, who announced on LinkedIn his desire to end his own life, wanted his death to support a drive to change the law on assisted dying.

Confronted with the possibility that Binner might want to end his own life, his wife Debbie was initially relieved when the assisted suicide bill was defeated in parliament. “I’ve always been quite anti-assisted dying,” she said in the film. “It’s one of those dinner-party conversations you have, never dreaming that you’d ever actually be having the conversation.”

However Binner decided to make an appointment at a Swiss assisted dying clinic and the cameras followed him from June of last year through the decision he made with his family to go ahead with his plan. His last moments were recorded by film-makers Rowan Deacon and Colin Barr.

BBC head of documentary commissioning, Patrick Holland, said: “This is a hugely important and powerful film about one of the most contentious issues facing families in the UK. Simon, his wife, family and friends have allowed us into their lives as they face one of the biggest dilemmas imaginable. Together they confront the terrible choices involved, with love and humbling candour.”

BBC2 channel editor, Adam Barker, said: “BBC2 has a strong track record of showing ambitious, compelling authored singles such as Vanessa Engle’s film on domestic violence or Robb Leech’s film, Welcome to the Mosque and we’re very proud to be bringing this thought-provoking film from award-winning film-makers Rowan Deacon and Colin Barr to the channel. The film sensitively explores the issue of assisted suicide with intimate access to one family facing up to one of the toughest decisions there is to make.”

The programme is due to air on 10 February but is not the first time that an assisted suicide has been shown on British television.

In 2008 the Sky documentary Right to Die? (made by Oscar-winner John Zaritsky) seemed to show the moment when 59-year-old Craig Ewert, who also had motor neurone disease, died.

  • In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 FREE. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.
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