Tony Nicklinson has died. It is what he sought, but not through the means he hoped.
Tony suffered a severe stroke seven years ago, and had been trapped in his own body. His mind was unaffected, but he could do nothing more than move his eyes to communicate. For him it was a “living nightmare”, and he wanted to be free of it.
He was unable to commit suicide, so fought instead for a doctor to be able to assist him without fear of prosecution. The British High Court refused to change the laws regarding assisted suicide, so Tony did about the only thing left to him – refused to eat. He then caught pneumonia, went downhill fast, and died yesterday at the age of 58.
As I’ve said before, we need to talk more openly about suicide as a culture. Both to help people who mistakenly think it is the only way out, and so that we can compassionately help people who, for their own reasons and conditions, no longer wish to live.
One measure of a free society is having as little as possible forced upon you. Of having no one intrude on your life and how you live it. If another person seeks to end their life of pain with dignity, how dare we refuse them and still call ourselves free. How dare we force them to a slow, painful death of starvation and sickness.
Rest in Peace, Tony. I’m sorry it was so terribly difficult to come by.