TV suicide wife: Why I want the world to watch my husband's death

Posted on 2:00 AM by Sameer Shah

The harrowing moment a retired university professor dies in an 'assisted suicide' will be shown on television tonight.

Craig Ewert, 59, is filmed turning off his ventilator and taking a lethal dose of drugs washed down with apple juice.

Just minutes before his death, Mary, his wife of 37 years asks him: 'Can I give you a big kiss?' She adds: 'I love you sweetheart so much. Have a safe journey and see you some time.'

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Mail, Mary, 59, explained why she wanted the world to share his dying moment, she said: 'The film is a wonderful tribute to my husband. I have absolutely no regrets about agreeing to leave the camera rolling as Craig died. It's what we both wanted.

'The only time I asked the film crew to leave was around 30 minutes after Craig had died. I needed to cry and I wanted to do that alone.

'If this film gets people thinking about death and talking about it, that's all that Craig would have wished.

'The film examines the process of death. Craig wanted to get the message across, "Look, this is what death is like. It's not scary."

'Craig believe in honesty about everything. To honestly show what it looks like to die will, hopefully, help wipe away people's terrors.

We were both convinced that controversial issues - such as showing someone dying on TV - are only controversial because there's such a taboo surrounding them.'

Mr Ewert's death will be the first assisted suicide shown on British television and is likely to trigger a fresh broadcasting standards row.

His wife maintains she does not feel it was intrusive or wrong to allow the cameras to film the end of her husband' s life.

'This is Craigs's way of living on,' she said. ' I get weepy when I watch the film but, strangely, I don't cry when I watch him die.

'I cry at the scene which shows the two of us in a park in Harrogate.

'We were so happy and had so many plans. I don't cry that Craig chose to die as he did.

'But I weep to see what the illness took from us.'

The programme was condemned last night as dangerous and grotesque amid fears that it would 'undermine people's right to life' and risked glorifying suicide.

The anger provoked by the Sky documentary on the controversial Swiss euthanasia company Dignitas came as it was disclosed that the Crown Prosecution Service would bring no charges against the parents of a paralysed rugby player who also committed suicide in Switzerland.

That decision and tonight's documentary will reignite the debate about the rights and wrongs of assisted suicides, which are illegal in this country.

Mr Ewert, an American father-of-two who was living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease five months before his death.

His health deteriorated rapidly. He required a ventilator to help him breathe and the chronic wasting disease threatened to rob him of his ability to swallow.

His wife told the Mail: 'It was Craig's worst nightmare.

'When he was a young boy he suffered a bout of polio and was paralysed for several weeks so that his mother had to carry him everywhere.

'The terror of being paralysed stayed with him.

'He was also fearful of suffocation. Now he was facing his two greatest fears.

'We have always been extremely close and talked about everything, and over the years we had discussed death.

'When he started talking about taking his own life, I wasn't surprised. I backed him.

'No doctor could promise him a painless death with the disease he had.

'He knew it was going to be a slow and traumatic decline.

'My greatest fear was that I would have to watch him suffer and not be able to help. I would have felt his torturer.'

Mr Ewert decided to use the services of Dignitas to end his life and paid it £3,000.

In the film he is seen talking lucidly about the reasons for his decision to die and describes his body as a 'living tomb'.

Oscar-winning Canadian documentary director John Zaritsky was given access to Dignitas and recorded everything that happened on 26 September 2006 with the blessing of Mr Ewert and his family.

Helped by Dignitas 'escort' Arthur Bernhard, Mr Ewert is shown using his teeth to activate a timer which switches off his lifesupport machine in 45 minutes.

The patient is then warned: 'Mr Ewert if you drink this you're going to die.'

As Beethoven's Ninth plays in the background, he drinks the lethal dose of barbiturate sodium phenobarbital from a cup using a straw.

The Dignitas representative, who holds the cup for him, says: 'I wish you good travelling' and he loses consciousness minutes later as his wife holds his hand.

Later there is a loud beep as the breathing aid machine turns itself off.

The Dignitas man checks his pulse in his neck and says: 'He's gone.'

The wording says it is an offence to 'aid, abet, counsel or procure a suicide or attempted suicide'.

Dr Trevor Stammers, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said the spectacle of having your death broadcast on TV was grotesque.

Phyllis Bowman, of Right to Life, said: 'This is promoting assisted suicide. What kind of effect do they imagine it is going to have on a depressive. It undermines the vulnerable and it also undermines people's right to life.'

Phil Willis, the LibDem MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, where Mr Ewert lived, said: 'The idea that we can make a documentary actually in someways glorifying suicide seems to me to be a step we should at least challenge in terms of the morality of it, if not condemn.'

Barbara Gibbon, of Sky Real Lives, said: 'This is an issue that more and more people are confronting and this documentary is an informative, articulate and educated insight into the decisions some people have to make.

2 Response to "TV suicide wife: Why I want the world to watch my husband's death"

Boomy Says....

Phyllis Bowman, of Right to Life, said: 'This is promoting assisted suicide. What kind of effect do they imagine it is going to have on a depressive. It undermines the vulnerable and it also undermines people's right to life.'

Yes, but that is a right and can refuse it, let him choose what he wants and don't decide for other people when you have no freaking idea of what they're going through.

Uber Says....

If people realize that they should not fear death and how easy it is, they will stop wanting to die and make the most of their lives and this world !