Because of the high risk of encouraging suicide amongst the vulnerable, international media ethics prescribe careful guidelines for coverage of every suicide. Of particular import: the instructions not to sensationalize or romaticize the suicidal act, not to offer the ‘justifying reasons’ or publish the suicide note or statements of the individual killed. All of that is now out the window in California.
The tragedy of a young California woman, Brittany Maynard, is the principle vehicle used by C&C (formerly known as the Hemlock Society) to carry this message of ‘compassionate’ killing. Simultaneous stories in People Magazine, and in every newspaper in the nation announced her ‘declaration’ to take her own life on November 1st, 2014.
Many individuals have faced illnesses similar to Brittany’s brain cancer, and lived for years. Amazingly, the day prior to “D Day” Nov 1, Brittany announced that she too would like to put it off a bit longer. Something or someone influenced Brittany to ‘get back on schedule’ and she did indeed die of poisoning on Nov 1.
While supposedly ‘private’, this was one of the most public ‘self-killings’ of recent times.
It was clear then and even clearer on Weds. March 25th, that many others were directly involved in both Brittany’s care and and the promulgation of her final decision. A Compassion in Choices media team had recorded numerous videos of Brittany, her husband and parents as they emotionally agitated for a change in California law. These video pleas and personal testimony were repeated for California’s Senate Committee on Health and hundreds of proponents and opponents lined up to state their position.
But the mediagenic nature of Brittany’s lethal decision was clearly front and center.
The California Senate Health Committee, after watching Brittany’s ‘good by’ video and hearing emotional testimony by those who seek to remove the law against third-party involvement in suicide (“assisting suicide”) as well as considerable countervailing documentation of killing of the non-terminal, doctor shopping and manipulated suicide by heirs, voted SB 128 out and on to the Judiciary Committee.
It is expected to be heard in Senate Judiciary in April.
Here is the Senate Health Committee membership with links.
Please let your Senator know of your care or concern for their vote.
Senators Richard Roth, Wolk, Hernandez, Hall, Mitchell and Monning supported suicide
Senators Nielsen and Nguyen opposed.
Senator Pan abstained.