Dying For Assistance?

(By Pip)

My husband once told one of our daughters that when our time came he intended to shoot me, and then himself. She thought it hysterical but I’m no altogether sure he was joking, and if there is still no other way by then, I am grateful to him.

Mar Adentro

I’ve always been firmly in the quality not quantity camp when it comes to my own mortality. If my death is not the result of some sudden random accident or swift medical emergency but instead a terrible, pain-ravaged or degenerative illness then I think eventually I will be one of many who will be looking for someone to help me die.


One of my strongest emotions during the time leading up to my father’s death was the shock that someone can be so ill and yet still be alive. Had he been a family pet, we would have ended his misery months before, when his quality of life disappeared.

I don’t agree that legalising assisted dying will result in a stampede. Sure we all know of people looking for an early get-out clause, and for this reason the process should be ethically and medically managed to protect the vulnerable but I believe that it is wrong to criminalise those that help their loved ones depart with dignity. It is surely a better option than suicide – which leaves friends and families with more questions than answers – and is such a lonely way to end a life. The British soap Eastenders touched on this topic recently when matriarch Peggy Mitchell took her own life rather than face an inevitable, painful and probably undignified death from cancer.

One of my favourite foreign language films is Mar Adentro, the true story of a virile young man who becomes a quadriplegic as the result of a foolish summer-time prank and fights the Spanish legal system winning the right for someone to help him take his own life. It is a beautiful story, beautifully told. Earlier this year the BBC screened Simon’s Choice following his deterioration due to an aggressive form of Motor Neurone Disease and his ultimate decision to end his life in a Swiss clinic. It was very moving and desperately sad but when the end came and Simon flew to Switzerland with a large group of family and friends it was also very beautiful.

It’s a complex debate, something I think Rebel In A Tutu will come back to and certainly one I’m sure that readers will have an opinion on…

Assisted Dying | The Legal Perspective


In The Shadow of The Black Dog

Image that your life is futile. That no-one loves you, that you are repugnant, worthless and have no future. Imagine spending great chunks of each and every day crying. Imagine waking before dawn each day only to lie listlessly in bed for hours, your hopeless existence swirling around your head.

Imagine thinking you would rather be dead than live in the shadow of a huge black dog… this is reality for many people suffering from depression!


Mental health is a massive subject and likely to be something that Rebel In A Tutu will keep on coming back to, but as the BBC’s In The Mind season draws to a close, now seems as good a time as any to kick off the discussion.

Depression and anxiety are the most common forms of mental illness and it is estimated that 1 in 10 of us will suffer from one or other of these conditions during our lifetime. These statistics rise to more than 20% in the over 65s and yet relatively few sufferers have access to appropriate or timely treatment and are subjected to ignorance, misunderstanding and stigma.

Having suffered from clinical depression more than once myself, I find it vaguely insulting when people use the term lightly.  You know, the person who turns up at work on Monday morning claiming to be depressed simply because they had a crap weekend. As if depression can descend overnight and disappear just as quickly!  Real depression can leave a person incapable of turning up for work much less tell all their colleagues how they are feeling.

To the depressed it seems incredible that most people have never encountered the black dog whilst to non-sufferers, understanding depression is equally baffling.

And there’s the rub, depressives judge themselves harshly and feel inferior because they can’t cope with a world that most people seem to take in their stride.  The media can play a vital role in breaking down these barriers of misunderstanding, reducing stigma and reassuring sufferers that they are not alone…

I Had A Black Dog, His Name Was Depression (WHO video) – this excellent animated video explains depression in straightforward layman’s terms.

BBC’s In The Mind – a two week series of programmes on mental health covering postpartum psychosis and bipolar disorder in depth together with soundbites on changing social attitudes, the NHS and the work of mental health charities.

6 Reasons Why People With Mental Illness Are Strong, Not Weak from huffingtonpost.com