“Whether he is 19, 5 or 92, you can assume every dying person knows what is best.”-Joy Ufema Registered Nurse and Thanatologist.
Suicide, assisted suicide, passive euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, assisted-dying there are a plethora of terms used to describe essentially the same event. The death of a person is a cultural rite of passage, passage literally out of this realm and depending on your beliefs, into another realm or nothingness. But in the case of assisted suicide or euthanasia it is regarded as a cultural taboo which has and continues to morph based on how a culture views the act of suicide, is it an act of killing or of dying. The documentary film The Trouble with Dying, directed by Ken Simpson depicts two women who are dying and asking for the right to assisted suicide in Canada. The film is discussing not only assisted-suicide in regard to the Canadian Legal system, but it is much more than a legal issue for many people in the world, it is about the freedom to choose the right to die with dignity. An analysis of this documentary, as well as other films and media, helps to clarify the arguments both for and against the cultural taboo known as assisted suicide, yet the essential question is, is assisted suicide killing or dying?
In order to discuss the current view of assisted suicide one must be familiar with the history and definition of suicide as a taboo. The cultural taboo known as suicide has morphed over the last 5 millennia. For the majority of Western history suicide was actually accepted, for example in ancient Greece, it was described as “to grasp death,” “to die voluntarily,” or “to die by one’s own hand” whereas in later Roman culture suicide resided in a “grey area” because the...
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... “Who was it for you?” This is a correct assumption on Good’s part knowing that most people ignore the issue of assisted suicide or continue to view it as taboo if they have not been directly affected by it.
In this analysis of the use of visuals and text to interpret the taboo of suicide and the current debate over assisted suicide, there are many examples to support the idea that if one can humanize death by suicide or assisted suicide this could create the avenue to change public perception. The perception of suicide being a mode of reaching death by killing or a mode of death used to end the suffering of another person as a mode of dying. The artistic value of the films and documentaries discussed go beyond the political, medical and social debate to reveal the so-called taboo of assisted suicide as part of the overall human condition.
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