BBC Made Last Minute Changes To Simon Binner Documentary After Samaritans Complaint
Samaritans put pressure on the BBC to make last minute changes to documentary showing a man taking his own life.
How to Die: Simon’s Choice, which aired on BBC Two last night, followed the final months of Simon Binner, a Cambridge graduate who suffered from motor neurone disease, and his eventual decision to kill himself, on October 19 last year.
An early version of the deeply moving documentary, which was made available to journalists last month, contained scenes in which Mr Binner’s lifeless body was glimpsed lying on a bed. Other footage included a description by a member of staff at the Eternal Spirit clinic, in Basel, of how the anaesthetic used to end Mr Binner’s life affected the human body.
The footage of Mr Binner’s corpse was removed from the final version of the programme, and the scenes involving the drug were edited, although not removed entirely, after an executive from the Samaritans raised concerns that the corporation may fall foul of guidelines that prevent broadcasters from giving detailed guidance about suicide methods.
A BBC source said: “We do not name the drug plus it is clear that the drug used is not one that is accessible by the general public. Therefore we are not showing a detailed demonstration of means and methods that would result in copycat suicides.”
Mr Binner made headlines last year, when he announced on LinkedIn that he planned to kill himself. Care Not Killing, the anti-assisted suicide group, said that the corporation was acting as a “cheerleader for suicide” by showing the documentary, but Rowan Deacon, one of the film-makers, insisted that the programme was “not a campaign film”.