Documentary led to disabled man's suicide
20 January 2003
Documentary led to disabled man's suicide Westminster, 20 January 2003--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has criticised documentary-makers for undermining the welfare and the right to life of disabled people by their treatment of assisted suicide. Motor Neurone Disease sufferer Reginald Crew, who is reported to have died by suicide today, said he got the idea about how to kill himself after seeing a TV documentary about overseas groups willing to help disabled and elderly people end their lives. Only a few such cases have been reported, but others may have occurred without publicity. Concern has also been raised that the Crew family may have been advised by an English group that wants to legalise killing of elderly and disabled people. If such a group has assisted or encouraged Mr Crew to commit suicide it could stand in breach of the 1961 Suicide Act, which forbids assisting suicide. SPUC plans to raise this matter with the Director of Public Prosecutions. Paul Tully, General Secretary of SPUC, said: "If the media had broadcast a documentary about the high suicide rate among teenage remand prisoners which helped more remand prisoners to commit suicide, it would be regarded as utterly irresponsible, and the media would bear some of the blame for such deaths. In this case, by publicising the details of the groups involved, the media is promoting death for elderly and disabled people and should be held to account. "There is naturally great public sympathy for Mr Crew, but the finding of the Disability Rights Commission (which is not a "pro-life" group) should be noted: they found 'people thought it was more important that disabled people had a stronger right to live than a stronger right to die.' "That leads us to ask whether the Crew family had received help from those with expertise in caring for MND sufferers, especially in the terminal stages. If the media gave more attention to the work of such groups, the outcome for Reginald Crew might have been happier," concluded Mr Tully.