Veteran BBC correspondent John Simpson has said he would opt for assisted suicide, rather than become an ‘old bore’.
In an interview with The Telegraph the 71-year-old reporter, who is currently World Affairs Editor at the BBC, said he does not want to bear witness to old age, illness and infirmity.
Despite having a ten-year-old son called Rafe about whom he is profoundly worried, he remarked: “If I can, that is what I will do”.
Simpson made the comments as he recounted the death of his late friend, sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi, who was wheelchair-bound in later life following a stroke.
He told The Telegraph: “I was saying to my wife just the other day, ‘If this happens you must slip me a pill’. I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want her and Rafe to see me like that. There is more to life than just living and breathing. If life is a distasteful burden, why carry on?”
Quoting an older friend who said he has “decided not to become an old bore” he concluded, “that is what I have decided to do, too”.
In September last year a Bill to legalise assisted suicide was heavily defeated in the House of Commons, after serious concerns had been raised that legalisation would pressurise the sick, elderly and vulnerable into ending their lives for fear of being a burden.
Following a lengthy debate, MPs voted 330 to 118 against Rob Marris’ Private Members’ Bill.
Last summer a writer whose mother refused assisted suicide in Oregon, where it is legally available, warned that the law ‘repackages killing as compassion’.
Grace and dignity
On her twelfth birthday, Jessica Rodgers’ mother Helene was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and told she had six months to live.
Jessica said her mother “chose to face her last days with grace and dignity” and lived for nearly four years, much longer than the six-month prognosis.
“She knew that dignity was not to be found in ending her own life, or asking her doctor to be complicit in her death”.
Life worth living
Giving an analogy on the subject, she argued that if we were to come across a person on a bridge about to commit suicide, our instinct would be to hold them back with “compassionate arms”, rather than to help them jump.
“How does the child navigate a society that on one hand grieves suicide victims and cries that it gets better, while on the other hand silently agreeing that some lives aren’t worth living and that suicide would be the best option available”, she added.