Terry Pratchett Considering Assisted Suicide

Acclaimed author Terry Pratchett has confirmed that he received consent forms recently from Dignitas, the Swiss assisted suicide clinic. The Discworld creator says he intends to sign them “imminently” but does not know for certain whether he will go through with euthanasia, stating he changes his mind “every two minutes.”

If you’re a close follower of his doings or a regular viewer of BBC, you’ll know that Pratchett recently filmed and aired a documentary about the Dignitas facility called Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die. The decision by BBC to air the program has garnered complaints from anti-euthanasia activists who claim the documentary, which featured the last moments of millionaire hotel owner Peter Smedley’s life, is “propaganda”. Smedley suffered from motor neurone disease.

In 2008 at age 60, Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative and incurable form of dementia. Though he’s still working steadily, Pratchett says, “The only thing stopping me is that I have made this film and I have a bloody book to finish.”

Fans of Pratchett’s work are split, with some admiring the author’s bravery and others concerned that his decision will send an unhealthy message about the value of life to his readers. As for Pratchett, his concerns seem to lie in the quality of life and the freedom to make decisions. His wife, he says, does not want him to take his own life.

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30 Responses to Terry Pratchett Considering Assisted Suicide

  1. Its sad, I've just started reading some of his stuff and watched the two movies (hogswatch and color of magic)

    I hope he takes a ham sandwich with him though

  2. Pratchett is my favourite author, i thought the documentary was amazing.

    Its clearly pro euthanasia but was still unbiased enough to be watched by even those who dont believe in it. 

  3. Pratchett is my favourite author, i thought the documentary was amazing.

    Its clearly pro euthanasia but was still unbiased enough to be watched by even those who dont believe in it. 

  4. Pratchett is my favourite author, i thought the documentary was amazing.

    Its clearly pro euthanasia but was still unbiased enough to be watched by even those who dont believe in it. 

  5. I've waited ten years for my grandmother to extinct peacefully. Ten
    years of sufferings, loss of consciousness, ten years which cost me my
    family, my childhood and my girlfriends. Keeping beloved people alive
    while they wait for their own death on behalf of humanity is inhuman for
    them as well as for their family. TP is very courageous and we will
    miss him. But better know he died peacefully, with no regrets rather
    than suffering for years, being conscious of his fate.

  6. I've waited ten years for my grandmother to extinct peacefully. Ten
    years of sufferings, loss of consciousness, ten years which cost me my
    family, my childhood and my girlfriends. Keeping beloved people alive
    while they wait for their own death on behalf of humanity is inhuman for
    them as well as for their family. TP is very courageous and we will
    miss him. But better know he died peacefully, with no regrets rather
    than suffering for years, being conscious of his fate.

  7. I've waited ten years for my grandmother to extinct peacefully. Ten
    years of sufferings, loss of consciousness, ten years which cost me my
    family, my childhood and my girlfriends. Keeping beloved people alive
    while they wait for their own death on behalf of humanity is inhuman for
    them as well as for their family. TP is very courageous and we will
    miss him. But better know he died peacefully, with no regrets rather
    than suffering for years, being conscious of his fate.

  8. I’ve waited ten years for my grandmother to extinct peacefully. Ten
    years of sufferings, loss of consciousness, ten years which cost me my
    family, my childhood and my girlfriends. Keeping beloved people alive
    while they wait for their own death on behalf of humanity is inhuman for
    them as well as for their family. TP is very courageous and we will
    miss him. But better know he died peacefully, with no regrets rather
    than suffering for years, being conscious of his fate.

  9. Everybody should have the right to decide for themselves, when and how they'd like to end their lifes.
    No Religion, no politician nor even a family member, has the right to deny that to anyone!

  10. Everybody should have the right to decide for themselves, when and how they’d like to end their lifes.
    No Religion, no politician nor even a family member, has the right to deny that to anyone!

  11. Alzheimer's disease is a nasty way to go, especially for a beautiful mind as Pratchett's. My wife grandmother was a brilliant scholar, traveled and taught worldwide, became a dean in a state university, and received national recognition and awards. Sadly, she spent the last 6 years of her life in a constant state of confusion, anger, fear, ridicule, and indignity. Her family is staunchly Catholic so assisted suicide was never an option, even when she was diagnosed early on. Her life was never her own, her choice constrained by what the church expected of her.

    Tery Pratchett has entertained us with his wit and creativity. The least we could do is to accept his decision to leave this world in his terms, with his dignity intact.

  12. This is so sad, but it's better that he makes this decision before his Alzheimer's turns him into an absolute vegetable.  At least he's still working.  I can't imagine how much suffering it must be putting him through

  13. This is so sad, but it’s better that he makes this decision before his Alzheimer’s turns him into an absolute vegetable.  At least he’s still working.  I can’t imagine how much suffering it must be putting him through

  14. his life, his choice……..quality of life to the individual facing whatever debilitating situation is much more important than the opinion of someone else based on their religious views or morals. I support and admire Mr. Pratchett, and hope he never has to exercise the option.

  15. his life, his choice……..quality of life to the individual facing whatever debilitating situation is much more important than the opinion of someone else based on their religious views or morals. I support and admire Mr. Pratchett, and hope he never has to exercise the option.

  16. I'm completely torn about this.  Of course it's his decision, and no matter what he does, I will be a lifelong fan of his work.  But my grandmother suffers from severe dementia, and I can tell you that she is by no means the same person she was.  She wasn't a writer or a brilliant person like Terry Pratchett, but she was funny, engaged, and an avid reader.  She is none of those things anymore.  It's a terrible disease, and I certainly appreciate the significance of Pratchett's statements about quality of life.  My grandmother has been reduced to a child, or worse, because she doesn't have the curiosity and ability to learn that a child does.  She is completely dependent on others, but the independence she cultivated as an adult keeps fighting against her new dependence, and she finds herself angry, confused, and frustrated more often than not.  It's been a terrible thing to watch, and if I knew that this was the fate that awaited me, as a writer and as a human being with a certain sense of dignity and pride, I can't honestly say that assisted suicide wouldn't cross my mind.  I don't take the act of suicide lightly at all, but neither can I blame Mr. Pratchett for considering the difference between a quantity of years and a quality of life.  This whole thing just makes me terribly sad.

  17. Well, Pratchett is being a real cry baby about the whole thing. My dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's 5 years ago, and he's been taking Rivastigmine (comercial name, Exelon) – it reduces symptoms radically and works like a charm between 8-10 years. My dad's a retired mechanic, and although the medication's rather expensive, it's not prohibitively so, specially for a guy that must be loaded with cash.
    He can live a full life and be independent for 10 more years, so the whole thing came out as nonsensical whining… You've got Alzheimer's? Boo freakin' hoo, it's close to becoming a mildly chronic disease.

    …And let's not talk about what's coming down the line, therapeutically wise, 10 year down the line.
     

    • Your father is one of the lucky ones. Dementia treatment is still very iffy and doesn't work for everyone, ten years is not the normal span of independence for someone who has it. It is still a terrifying disease that slowly strips you of your mind. I hope your father continues to stay in good help but do not assume that it works for everyone. People do not treat assisted suicide as a first option. It is the step you take when you have tried everything else and death and disease still looms over you. I can completely understand Pratchett's wish to end it before his mind completely goes. I have seen some great minds reduced to that of a child and I have seen people spend their last months screaming at nothingness. No one should have to suffer like that. 

    • I know this is now a slightly old thread, but Garfield above seems to miss the point, I think Sir Terry is being very couragous about 'the whole thing'. Yes different medication might help, but not in all cases, yes there might be ten more years, but not for everyone. This subject is very taboo, and in the end it comes down to personal choice about how far down the line someone wants to travel. One problem is though, society wants to frown on individuals deciding enough is enough, whether or not someone else thinks another ten years is possible, struggling on with an illness, it isn't their chopice to make. Garfield missess the point entirely.

    • Still get too angry about the hogwash wrapped up with criticism of this issue to be as clear as I would like to be.
      http://transremaxculver.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/

      Where i get quite cross too
      http://transremaxculver.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/

      Where I stay more reasonable.

      This is an issue about a personal and important freedom, and Sir Terry has said more sensible things about the subject in the last couple of years than I have read in my entire life preceeding it, And at one time I worked in Paliative care.

  18. Well, Pratchett is being a real cry baby about the whole thing. My dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 5 years ago, and he’s been taking Rivastigmine (comercial name, Exelon) – it reduces symptoms radically and works like a charm between 8-10 years. My dad’s a retired mechanic, and although the medication’s rather expensive, it’s not prohibitively so, specially for a guy that must be loaded with cash.
    He can live a full life and be independent for 10 more years, so the whole thing came out as nonsensical whining… You’ve got Alzheimer’s? Boo freakin’ hoo, it’s close to becoming a mildly chronic disease.

    …And let’s not talk about what’s coming down the line, therapeutically wise, 10 year down the line.
     

  19. take my life for live more very good …
    a title for a new  book?
    no, is the reality, your reality!!!
    i love your books but this is very hard 
    i think with the brain but i feel with the heart

  20. take my life for live more very good …
    a title for a new  book?
    no, is the reality, your reality!!!
    i love your books but this is very hard 
    i think with the brain but i feel with the heart

  21. As a care worker I have seen many cases of dementia and it is nothing short of terrifying. I can't blame anyone for choosing to die while they are still themselves.