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Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die (2011)

Terry Pratchett looks at the highly controversial issue of assisted suicide.


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Complete credited cast:
Himself - Presenter (as Sir Terry Pratchett)


Terry Pratchett looks at the highly controversial issue of assisted suicide.

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Release Date:

13 June 2011 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


Terry Pratchett: My name is Terry Pratchett, and I write fantasy novels for a living. I am 62 and I was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years ago. Somtimes, particularly when I'm depressed, I dread what the future may hold. And it occurred to me that, in these modern times, one shouldn't have to fear that sort of thing. I am talking about assisted dying, which is currently not legal in this country. What you are about to watch may not be easy, but I believe it's important. The people that I will meet in this ...
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Featured in Newsnight: Choosing to Die: Newsnight Debate (2011) See more »

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Harrowing... but important
21 June 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

How we as a society treat the subject of death is almost entirely unquestioned and unexplored. We are, essentially, in denial about it - our attitude is that since we don't want to die, we should put it off as long as possible no matter the consequences.

In this documentary Terry Pratchett discusses his Alzheimer's and how it is slowly eroding away his life and his talent. He meets others with medical conditions which will inevitably lead to a prolonged, painful and above all undignified death and asks the question "is it better to end things early?" There are few answers here. Pratchett is on a genuine mission of inquiry, he's not preaching a position, nor does he end up with an opinion. Instead he takes a frank look at a subject most shy away from, and his only real conclusion is that we'd perhaps do well to think it through more than we do now.

Be warned, towards the end of the documentary he accompanies a man to a Swiss clinic where he chooses to end his own life. This is not depicted in any kind of voyeuristic way, but both Pratchett and the camera do sit right there in the room with him and watches him die in cold, unflinching detail.

Perhaps most shocking is the statistic that, of the 2200 or so lives this clinic has helped to end, 21% of them were people with no medical condition whatsoever beyond what they termed a "weariness for life". Make of that what you will.

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