This man’s euthanasia journey was broadcast on TV… and audiences were riveted

Euthanasia is never an easy topic to discuss, and in fact we often do not talk about it here at
Entertain

Euthanasia is never an easy topic to discuss, and in fact we often do not talk about it here at Starts at 60 as we are a site for living and being active. However this story was too poignant to pass up and we wanted to share it with you.

“I was extremely happy until my diagnosis,” says Simon Binner. Simon was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which was so aggressive that within six months, he was already virtually unable to speak. For a man who had always been the life and soul of the party, it was hardly bearable. He wanted to get off the ride.

How to Die: Simon’s Choice on the BBC in the UK is a film about a man who wanted to kill himself while he still had the choice.

“I feel so strongly that this is not the right thing to do,” said Debbie, his wife. Simon’s diagnosis came just two years after her 18-year-old daughter’s death from Ewing’s sarcoma, after three years of illness. She represents the family members who dearly want to hold on, but ultimately it is the ill person’s decision.

Before his diagnosis Simon was a successful self-made business man who was full of joy and laughter. He didn’t want to die being heavily medicated or in palliative care – he wanted to die on his birthday. And once audiences saw his plight, they found his point of view was very understandable.

His 85-year-old mother planned to go with him to Switzerland. “I was there when he was born,” she reasoned.

“If I was single, I’d be gone, definitely. But I’m not single and I have responsibilities to others that I’m only now beginning to fully understand,” said Simon. As his counsellor at the Basel clinic tells him, “Those who have to let go do a much more difficult job than the people who go … Your wife has to go on living”, reports The Guardian.

Perhaps what moved audiences so much was the range of all points of view on the topic of euthanasia. It’s as complex as it is simple to some.

More than 1.2million people in the UK watched as businessman Simon Binner played a poignant last message to his wife Debbie from his deathbed before turning on the drip that killed him.

Tweets came in thick and fast with many saying they were left distraught and were crying as the motor neurone disease sufferer administered the life-ending drugs with a smile on his face.

Simon Binner’s wife, Debbie, (pictured in the show) told MailOnline it was a ‘beautiful documentary’ and said she hopes it sparks a ‘grown-up debate’. Many praised her on social media for bravely supporting her husband’s decision

The documentary does not show the moment of death however it does show staff placing Simon in a coffin and putting on the lid.

Despite the controversy about the documentary the BBC has received fewer than 10 complaints.

Simon’s final words:

‘Hi Debbie, it’s Simon here, I’ve loved you very, very much Debbie. I haven’t deserved you or Hannah or Zoe. Such loving and caring young ladies, and I’ve been such a grumpy gruffalo for much of the time.

‘But I really love you Debbie. We’ve had such a fun and laughter-filled marriage, we were really blessed to have found one another.

‘The one blessing of a slow decline is that we’ve had time to speak about things over 10 long months, not like losing me in a car smash.

‘We’ve really said everything that needs to be said. You’ve been a truly fantastic wife to me Debbie and I know that you loved me and I’ve loved you.

‘Anyway, time and tide wait for no man, I love you very much Debbie. Goodbye’.

Recalling the moment her husband took his own life, she said: ‘I remember Simon dying and I know he played a tape but I don’t remember the tape. I remember the tenderness I felt towards him, I got him ready in the morning.

‘I vaguely remember being on the plane… that’s about it. We were just trying to get through it. What we had to go through to end his life, it was extraordinarily difficult. I feel I’m still in shock and in trauma. Someone is there one minute and not the next.’

‘I haven’t got the words to express how big a deal it is. I am missing him, I yearn for him. I am guilty that somehow I couldn’t have made his life easier. Did I do enough? Did I do enough to make his life worthwhile when he had done so much for me over the years?’

The BBC denied it was promoting euthanasia.

A spokesman said: ‘This is a sensitive observational documentary following one family’s experience of assisted death, which explores some of the complex questions at the heart of this deeply divisive issue.

‘The film does not serve to support either argument or intend to wholly represent the debate’.

Tell us, do you support euthanasia? Why or why not?

  1. I support Euthanasia for the Terminally ill if they choose to go down that path, and for those who are on the final stage of Dementia. People that are terminally ill are not going to recover so why should they live for a short time in pain, and those in final stages of dementia have no quality of life, they don’t even know they are alive, but that sort of decision should be made before they get to the final stage and left in the hands of a solicitor.

  2. I support Euthanasia for the Terminally ill if they choose to go down that path, and for those who are on the final stage of Dementia. People that are terminally ill are not going to recover so why should they live for a short time in pain, and those in final stages of dementia have no quality of life, they don’t even know they are alive, but that sort of decision should be made before they get to the final stage and left in the hands of a solicitor.

    • Yes, Libbi. And as you say, ‘if they choose.’ It must forever be up to the individual.

    • I’m not in favour only because we don’t know what is around the corner. My wife has a condition where her prognosis was for only five years. This was in 1991.

    • I watched a show a couple of years ago, an American couple went to Holland (?), he still had all of his faculties but was a very ill man. It showed him going before medical boards, their meetings etc, and they confirmed that he was of broad mind to go through this procedure. The show actually showed him taking the medicine with his wife by his side and he fell asleep in her arms ….. it was very moving and put him out of his pain <3

    • Everyone should have a choice & be given the right to end their life. If they are terminally ill, why should they continue suffering. That is wrong. You don’t let an animal suffer, so why should we & also agree with the dementia. That is a cruel disease to. No way do I want to continue living if I ever get that way.

    • Trouble is it will not stop there. Read up on other country’s journey into euthanasia and how it got out of control. No matter who says this will not happen here, no-one can assure us that a clever lawyer will not find a way around the law and set a precedent? Or a politician who wants to get rid of the burden of the expensive age pensioners who are supposedly depleting their coffers.

    • Joan Rowe we should at least be given an option, if you don’t want it fine, that is your choice but you can’t choose for others

    • Leanna Stephenson : Never said you could not have it.
      It should be your choice and your responsibility and no-one else’s.
      And, it could end up NOT being MY choice.
      Just remember there is ALWAYS a precedent.
      If your daughter or granddaughter/son etc has a disabled baby and they decide to euthanise it how would you feel? To me it smack of abdicating responsibilities and giving others the power over your life and death
      Just putting forth my opinion like everyone else .

    • Not asking anyone to agree with me, I am just stating my opinion like anyone else.
      I believe we have an allotted time span and we should live tro the end.
      Not one of my family ever considered euthanasia.
      I have a brother-in-law battling cancer right now. He is 85 this year but he will go down fighting, because that is his nature, and so did my sister and mother, and so will my other sister as will I.
      Each to his own, but I don’t see why I have to live with laws some people want and I have no choice in the matter. Which is what will eventually happen

    • None of our families have done euthansia Joan Rowe it is not legal in this country, my wife has teminal cancer I want the option so that is she need help in the end she can get it. you are only one person in this country, your choice is no more important than anyone elses, and judging by these comments not many agree with you

    • Joan I have worked with cancer parients. For some palliative care is a gentle easing out of life with no pain. However there are some who suffer uncontrollable and constant pain, or those like this man who will have an unpleasant dying process. People who are in this position should have the right to choose to end their lives before it becomes burdensome.

    • Joan you would not have to opt for euthanasia. It should be available to those who do want to use that option. It would be a voluntary option, not mandatory.

    • David James and everyone else giving Joan a hard time she is just trying to point out that things could get out of hand. She didn’t say you can’t, or don’t have the right. I have suffered depression and in constant physical pain and could have easy ended it all but when you feel better you are so glad to be alive a lot of people suffering pain and terminal illness would feel the same way and want to end it all. If there is no chance of them getting better different story but who is the judge of this a cure could be just around the corner and a miracle may happen. Doctors aren’t gods or fortune tellers they are only guessing and different doctors may have diffferent diagnosis. Some nasty people may get rid of their elderly parents for financial gain saying it’s what they want but what if they were coerced into signing! or simply changed their mind. Life is precious. It’s a very nice thought to relieve someone of their suffering and nobody in their right mind wants to suffer but you just have to be very careful.

  3. There have been a couple of documentaries that showed the patient being euthanased.

  4. There have been a couple of documentaries that showed the patient being euthanased.

  5. I watched the doco terry pratchet did re voluntary euthanasia it was absolutely amazing. looked at so
    many different stories including his own.
    I want that choice.

  6. I watched the doco terry pratchet did re voluntary euthanasia it was absolutely amazing. looked at so
    many different stories including his own.
    I want that choice.

    • I saw that also Kerry – very powerful and a wonderful insight into euthanasia. I am so glad Terry didn’t have to go down that path but ultimately got what he so badly wanted. I also want that choice.

    • I want the choice as well. After watching my mothers journey through the dementia decline and knowing how much mental agony it gives my mother who was so bright & intelligent, heaps of energy, giving us the courage to have a go at anything and seeing her now is heart-breaking. I KNOW she does not want to be here as she told me before she slipped into this confusing world.
      In reality even if euthanasia was available we could not get it for her as she is no longer able to make a sane decision.

  7. I prefer death over lingering in pain and upsetting my family, give us dignity as we reach the end of our lives. I support Euthanasia

    • It’s amazing though, my sister had lost more than half her body weight, was in constant pain but never complained. She didn’t want to die, in fact she fought hard to live. She wanted to see her grandkids grow up a bit more. She was given three years and lived for four, after diagnosis. It opened my eyes a lot, there was another’s side to the debate.

  8. I prefer death over lingering in pain and upsetting my family, give us dignity as we reach the end of our lives. I support Euthanasia

    • It’s amazing though, my sister had lost more than half her body weight, was in constant pain but never complained. She didn’t want to die, in fact she fought hard to live. She wanted to see her grandkids grow up a bit more. She was given three years and lived for four, after diagnosis. It opened my eyes a lot, there was another’s side to the debate.

    • I agree. I have incurable cancer and my biggest fear is what I’ll put my son through – I want that choice!

    • Doctors can help you out, they did with my father ….. depends on the doctor. I hope when my time comes it is legal, otherwise I hope someone gives me a bottle of whisky and some pills and I’ll do it myself !

    • I am very sorry to Linda but if you are given a choice, you can say NO but those that feel they did it will have the option to go ahead

    • So sorry Linda I can relate my wife has terminal cancer, she is not ready to go yet herself, nor am I ready to let her go but if at the end , if things get really bad , it is an option we want to have available to us

    • Yes that is what it is all about the right to choose.if I was terminally ill,I would not want to put my family through my pain and suffering .it is very hard on the loved ones seeing you go through your suffering .

    • Thank you for all the nice comments. I’m not looking for sympathy – many are doing it harder – I just think we all need to have this choice – not just for us but our loved ones.

  9. I definitely support euthanasia for me anyway, I don’t care what other people want to do with their lives, it is not of my concern. I hate the fact that some politician can dictate to me as to how I can end my life. They’re gutless to make a stand in case they don’t get any votes. I know guidelines have to be set, but at the end of the day it’s my decision.

  10. I definitely support euthanasia for me anyway, I don’t care what other people want to do with their lives, it is not of my concern. I hate the fact that some politician can dictate to me as to how I can end my life. They’re gutless to make a stand in case they don’t get any votes. I know guidelines have to be set, but at the end of the day it’s my decision.

  11. We need to decide what we want, my mum has dementia. She has not wanted to be here for years, if I have this illness I will choose to go before I end up as my dear mother has

    • Same here Michele and Joan, it’s such a terrible way to go for the patient and the family visiting their loving mother who is no longer the person she used to be and often unable to move or do a thing for herself.

  12. We need to decide what we want, my mum has dementia. She has not wanted to be here for years, if I have this illness I will choose to go before I end up as my dear mother has

    • Same here Michele and Joan, it’s such a terrible way to go for the patient and the family visiting their loving mother who is no longer the person she used to be and often unable to move or do a thing for herself.

    • My mother also she was living dead for years. It was awful. I want the control over my life to determine when I make my exit.

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