Popular television show tackles ‘right to die’ 5

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The conversation around a person’s right to die is one that draws a diverse set of opinion, and now the issue is being taken to television.

For the first time (that Starts at 60 is aware of, anyway) popular United Kingdom television soap tackles suicide when much-loved character Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor for the last 22 years, chooses to end her life by taking a fatal overdose of pills.

Though it is not the first time a television soap has tackled a character leaving in such a controversial way, the bosses at EastEnders have been praised by the suicide charity Samaritans for the way in which it handled the subject.

“We have worked closely with leading medical experts and various charities, including Samaritans, to ensure this storyline is portrayed as sensitively and responsibly as possible,” an EastEnders spokesperson says.

“At no point do we glamourise or romanticise the issue of suicide, in fact we have taken great care to show the audience not only Peggy’s perspective but the many different views of those around her.”

A spokesperson for Samaritans says programs including soapies can increase the awareness of some of the issues surrounding suicide, including the devastation for loved ones and the conflict a person contemplating suicide might face.

If you are experiencing a personal crisis or have been affected by suicide and need to talk, get in touch with Lifeline’s Crisis Support hotline on 13 11 14.

What do you think of a television program addressing the issue of suicide? Is a person’s right to die something that needs to be discussed more broadly?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. The right to die like ‘gay marriage ‘ should not be a subject of discussion. It is a right. You did not choose to be born, your death at the time of your choosing is the only truly meaningful choice you wil ever make. Let that sink in a moment
    Then, what is so wrong with our society that premature death by their own violition amongst pre teens and young adults is exponentially rising? That is the question we all have to agonise over. It is not the child or teen or young adult victim to blame. It is what we mature citizens should realise, WE set the stage. When a child or teen takes that decision it is US who should be asking what we did or did not do, there is always an adult(s) involved somewhere.
    When it is an adult with terminal disease then i think that it is your choice. At 65 , do what you will with no justification needed. You have had a life or as much of a life as you want. Make Nembutal freely available for over 65s.

    2 REPLY
    • I agree

      1 REPLY
      • I’m in that category and whilst not there yet, I want the option to gently sleep and never wake given the type of cancer I have. My family mean too much to me to have to put them through this long drawn out agony or the risk of dying in a hospital with strangers by my side.

    • I agree, we aught to be able to end our life with dignity when we have had enough. I do not have a terminal illness, however I live with increasing pain. Strong pain medications have severe side effects. To be pain free I would have to be drugged to the point of not being able to function. I have multiple health issues and for which there are no cures.
      I am now 66 years of age and my mobility and abilities are declining. I require some help now and I have accepted this. I still do enjoy life, I have a positive personality, I value my independence too much to accept that this could ever be lost to me. I am not depressed, however I do not want to spend years in a nursing home having others providing personal care, if this were to ever be required, I would rather end my life. I believe I should have the right to do so. I am anti abortion, to me that is murder. I do not believe that anyone has the right to end the life of the unborn. I do believe that people aught to be assisted in ending their own life when they have had enough and while they still have the ability to make this decision. Advanced health care directive is not enough.

  2. When it is an adult with terminal disease then i think that it is your choice. At 65 , do what you will with no justification needed. You have had a life or as much of a life as you want.

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