On-Air: Should the moment of death ever be broadcast?

Have a look at this story on the BBC, following a tv documentary on Sky’s Real Lives about Craig Ewert, a man who took his own life (with the help of the organisation Dignitas ) and  stirred up another debate about assisted suicide.

Here’s what Craig’s wife , Mary had to say :

“Craig wasn’t interested in this as his personal story, he was interested in people actually coming to grips with death, with the fact of death – I think that’s often hidden from us. It’s very sanitised. “

Ok, that’s one argument for showing death. Not everyone agrees, though few viewers complained.  

Here’s another story that got you talking a few weeks ago : The case of Abraham Biggs Jnr , a troubled 19 year old who took a fatal drug overdose in front of a live internet audience, some of whom actually egged him on.

Here’s what his family said afterwards, in a statement.

Please do not feel sorry for us, we lost a beautiful but troubled soul. Instead, please use that energy to ’see’ with your heart. Mental illnesses, like depression and bipolar disease, are not temporary situations. It is something that victims live with and battle with privately.”

I’m not going to interpret what Mr Biggs’ family have said, but others  have said that in a tragic way, this death has highlighted how difficult it is to deal with issues of mental health. 

Here’s an interesting article about the issue from the Montreal Gazette, which concludes ..

“This brings us to a last, sad point. Biggs had talked a number of times previously of killing himself. A surprising number of people don’t know that talking about suicide can often be a precursor to the act. Such talk has to be taken seriously – in person or online.”

And there’s what might be called the “journalistic argument “. That is, that on occasions, to show the horror of war or a particular news story, the moment of death is important.

I remember as a kid, being horrified seeing this execution from Vietnam. I can’t remember how i saw it, but the picture has stayed with me ever since. It certainly shaped my thoughts about that conflict.

And this was close up death. Somehow, seeing death at a distance ( the images of the first bombing raids on Baghdad, 9/11 , etc) is shocking, but not quite the same.

Unless, that is, i imagine, if it was one of my relatives involved.

Then the arguments about sensationalism, gratuitous use of film, ratings grabbers, dishonouring the last moments of a life and so on, all come to the fore.

It’s a difficult issue naturally, so can broadcasting or showing death ever be justified ?




81 Responses to “On-Air: Should the moment of death ever be broadcast?”

  1. December 11, 2008 at 15:24

    A lot of people aren’t unfamiliar with seeing someone dying. There are numerous situations in fiction and reality in which the death of a person is witnessed. The famous death in the 21st century is the hanging of Saddam Hussein and the controversy it engendered following its broadcast on Youtube.

    Death is a recurring event almost every second. However, the death of a person through euthanasia shouldn’t be broadcast. At best, it should be debated. In other words, it shouldn’t be a “spectacle” talked about passionately by some and indifferently or even jokingly by others.

    It may be argued that some people have the right to die when they are terminally ill. This should be done in private. It shouldn’t be public through a broadcast.

    And to be sarcastic, should a camera be installed in the grave of the person whose death was broadcast to see the body decomposition step by step!? This also should be open to debate.

  2. December 11, 2008 at 15:28

    If there is a legimately reason and all involved (or next of kin if done retrospectively) then yes the moment should be allowed on air.

    In this case there is a legimate debate ongoing and that is a suitable reason. The person and his family have given consent for this to be shown. So this show should be broadcast.

    The moment should not be broadcast however if all the show is after is the shock value of the event.

  3. December 11, 2008 at 15:34

    Of course showing death can be justified. Death is a natural part of the human experience and, in context and with due regard to the wishes of the people involved, I can think of no reason NOT to show it.

  4. 4 Steve
    December 11, 2008 at 15:39

    I have a feeling this is more about narcissism and attention than promoting the idea of legalizing assisted suicide. Have we sunk really this low that we need to show people die on TV to entertain or for someone to get attention? Enough with this reality TV garbage. Everyone dies, not everyone gets filmed while dying, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. If he really wanted to let us know what someone dying looks like, then they might as well described how he defecated himself as he died, if he truly wants people to know what death looks like. They ignored that part, I’m sure. If you’re going to show it, show it all.

  5. 5 Ramesh
    December 11, 2008 at 15:44

    Surely, it is not for people who consider TV as an entertainment tool only. Such people could shut down their TVs and watch Soaps and Shampoos!! I don’t see anything wrong in the broadcast. However, it is not advisable to watch the broadcast without proper understanding of the background and issues invloved.

  6. December 11, 2008 at 15:44

    It used to be that a person died surrounded by his family, from the very old to the very young. Death was part of life and everyone had already seen people dying many times. Nowadays we like to pretend that death doesn’t exist because it’s not pretty, but it’s still part of life. I’m not sure whether I would want to watch a person die in front of the camera, but if we can watch a woman give birth on TV, then we must also have the courage to watch the end of a life, especially when it’s ended with dignity.

  7. December 11, 2008 at 15:48

    2 Years ago I witnessed my father in law taken off life support. It was a gruesome image that has stayed with me ever since. I didn’t watch on TV, if I had, I would have changed the channel. My husband has told me of video’s he has seen of deaths (like from the video series) and how he never wanted to see things like that again.
    But, until you experience something like that, you will remain curious. Some people just think, I could deal with it, until faced with the actual witnessing. Unless you have serious mental issues, you wouldn’t want to see someone die again. It’s not all like the movies where they just close their eyes.
    On the other hand I could see how the knowledge of the end could be comfort for someone who has been in terrible pain. That type of death and being witness to it could bring comfort. But I still think that it is a private matter.
    The only death that should be videoed or broadcast are executions of criminals, but the option to not watch is still there.

  8. 8 Steve
    December 11, 2008 at 15:52

    @ Katharina

    There’s no death with honor, and there’s also no death with dignity. There is just death.

  9. December 11, 2008 at 16:07

    What about an autopsy?
    According to other news, a high school class in Michigan toured the medical examiners office where they witnessed the autopsy of a 14 year old girl who was from their district. The teacher was informed of what was going on, but the report didn’t say if the parents were informed.
    I would think that would be just as bad as watching the actual death.

  10. 10 Tom
    December 11, 2008 at 16:08

    It’s a human tragedy that we are forced to get used to those things that were formerly unthinkable and beyond all sorts of human ethics and morality. Soon we all shall witness live a cannibal in action.

  11. December 11, 2008 at 16:10

    Hi WHYSers!

    Death is too emotional, private and misunderstood a reality to be trivialised (?) in the wider context of a media narrative that, largely, engenders feelings of entertainment, etc. It is a profound commentary about us as a people – whether in Britain, the US, Jamaica, etc., that we seem to want to dispel the notion of the sacred and tear everything down to these easily consumable elements of reality. This is wrong. It is both immoral and sacrilegious.

  12. 12 Krzysztof
    December 11, 2008 at 16:10

    Someone said that death is a natural part of human life. And that’s why it is ok to broadcast that moment? If so why we do not watch people sitting on the toilet. It is a natural part of our life too, isn’t it? Or maybe not?

    I’ve just made ironic remarks.

  13. December 11, 2008 at 16:12

    Hello Everyone,

    This is a simple question and the answer is simple too :NO!

    How do you expect people to enjoy someone dying?I mean how inhuman can this world become?Its okay if a person decides to suicide but broadcasting it is truly unacceptable.

    Thank you,

  14. 14 John in Salem
    December 11, 2008 at 16:15

    In 1977 all the major US tv networks broadcasted the tape showing the grandfather of the Walensa trapeze troupe falling 10 stories to his death while performing in Brazil. All the networks were immediately overwhelmed with calls from outraged viewers and I remember it vividly because I was one of those callers. I will never be able to forget the terror on that man’s face or the sound of his scream.
    This was the incident that prompted all tv news programs to begin issuing warnings when about to show something that might be disturbing.
    I think that in the context of a truly historic tragedy such as an assassination or the collapse of the WTC towers it is proper to show the public the unedited truth as it happens. We DO need to know sometimes.
    Beyond that, however, the airing of the moment of death – especially of violent death – is callously insensitive and can only appeal to the morbidly curious for the sake of ratings. For me, any program that capitalizes on tragedy is one that I never watch again.

  15. 15 gary
    December 11, 2008 at 16:25

    I cannot see many reasons for doing it, nor can I see much reason for its prohibition. News broadcasts present all manner of events in which people die; bombings, plane crashes, horrendous traffic acidents, and the like. If you are aware enough to know what’s happening, witnessing replay of these taped events is easily as chilling as watching death in person.

  16. December 11, 2008 at 16:32

    Salaam… As a human being, as a practicing Muslim, as a future doctor who considers EVERY human life on this earth to be scared, and also as an Iraqi citizen who’s extremely tired of death, I say NOOOOOOO, the moment of death should NEVER allowed to be broadcast on TV, NEVER !!! With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  17. 17 Jennifer
    December 11, 2008 at 16:35

    Re: Abraham Biggs Jnr

    I think the segment of letter from his family shows one concern for people who are mentally ill. However, what concerns me more is the nasty people that thought it was appropriate to encourage someone to take his own life. Sometimes, the Internet can be a magnet for that type of people.

    Re: It’s a difficult issue naturally, so can broadcasting or showing death ever be justified ?

    The reality is that we all die at some time. I would much rather see someone really die than see some fake shootout or smut scene.

  18. 18 Roy, Washington DC
    December 11, 2008 at 16:43

    I fail to see why, in the absence of a historical context (such as the execution of Saddam Hussein), anybody would want to watch someone else die.

  19. December 11, 2008 at 16:55


    I agree that this is not entertaining and should never be used as such. But TV is not always about enjoyment . It can be used for information and debate, as in the recent case in the UK.

  20. 20 Vijay
    December 11, 2008 at 17:07

    Should the moment of death ever be broadcast?

    No,I prefer sterile and sanitised news coverage of ther BBC versus the sensationalist blood,guts and gore of Indian private sectoer news channels.

    Mind you may be Barack Obama could make the execution of criminals pay per view ,that way federal and state prisons could earn some money.

  21. December 11, 2008 at 17:09

    It occurs that one point worth making is that it’s a shame the present mish mash of oppressive laws make push people to publicise their assisted suicide plans in order to protect their families from criminal charges.

  22. December 11, 2008 at 17:21

    Well, I think it should be fine, long as it is not murder, but then again … how many people have seen a murder live on television already? It wasn’t up close in personal, but when the the second plane struck the world trade center, I saw live on television the murder of hundreds of people. And, that brings to mind, how many countless television shows have death scenes in them, that are not by choice but murder?

    Can we only fantasize about death and avoid the the fact that it’s real? I mean, long as we aren’t holding “Running Man” competitions and it’s a dignified process, why should it not be shown? Can we not get real … about death?

  23. 23 McCulloch-Kerr Andrew
    December 11, 2008 at 17:21


    I see nothing myself repugnant about seeing moments of death in such as news footage perhaps reporting conflicts and war, however, accidents and personal determinations even medical operations should be may be not a good idea.

    The risk is that they will be relegated to commodities and just become another soap opera or sitcom, of a value to controllers and accountants chasing viewing figures; this would cheapen the acts or presentations, making the parties involved mere subjects for someone’s career enhancement or financial asset procurement.

    Frankly, I really do not care whether or not someone chooses to end their life, it is theirs. But I do not want to have it forced upon me, rammed down my throat at every opportunity, having my casual time for entertainment and education interrupted for an in depth production exploiting either a very distressing situation or a ratings war!

    The person deserves some dignity, we all do. Give me no comic book heroes or self indulgent masochists making their mark. The battle for ‘right to die’ is a complex one indeed, and being able to be clear if each case is wanted by the petitioner, at that time, but not perhaps tomorrow, or for ever, is almost impossible? Who judges? This subject does not have the option to change ones mind! Further, it is a charter for the unscrupulous and evil in society to make gains of one kind or another from those that are most vulnerable.

    Of course often people desire dependants or charges to be out of the way, but do they actually mean that, or perhaps just influenced at that time by ulterior events, fatigue, or circumstances, perhaps just feeling fed-up with the tasks / duties of care. No one is an angel and such thoughts are well within human psyches of everyone.

    So, how is it determined whether the petitioner is feeling down at that point in time or has a total and complete desire to die? Does even the petitioner know? Will that person think different in a few days or if new advancements come on the scene; it will be too late to change minds then.

  24. December 11, 2008 at 17:28

    I guess, in the outrage of a real death on television, there will be someone in all said outraged viewers homes … holding them at gun-point forcing them to watch. As for the chilidren that might see it, watch over your children better if you don’t want them to see it. It’s not something I want to see personally, but I don’t think this case should be restricted, it’s a man’s story … tell it.

  25. 25 VictorK
    December 11, 2008 at 17:35


    Broadcasting it is inseparable from turning it into entertainment and the cheapest kind of voyeurism (as with the videos of people having their heads sawed off by terrorists). Rupert Murdoch’s name is synonymous with hollowness, vulgarity and triteness, and so it was no surprise that this was broadcast on a network that he owns.

    Even the broadcast of an autopsy is inappropriate, for the same reasons; living, dying or dead, a human being is not a thing and shouldn’t be treated as such. Only a materialist of the coarsest sort will take the position of ‘what’s the harm?’ This is one of those areas where those whose outlook on life (and death) is religious especially show their superiority to the materialists and utilitarians for whom human beings are simply animated sacks of flesh when alive, and rotting meat when dead., and for whom respect and consideration are just words.

    No broadcaster should ever again be allowed to so flagrantly breach the common standards of the society they belong to.

  26. December 11, 2008 at 17:42

    …if sm1 wants to die…they should be able too

    dnt i have the right to end my suffering? who r u to say otherwise?

    y is it wrong in the 1st place?

  27. December 11, 2008 at 17:44

    oops….i forgot this part

    …if they wanna broadcast it? y not? …isnt it a form expression…isnt this man doin this for our benefit to sme extent?

  28. 28 David
    December 11, 2008 at 18:05

    People wake up. We humans created the monsters: TV, Camera, Internet etc, and all those in the politician hands are weapons of mass destruction.

    People can show off with gusto the suffering or death of other people they do not like. You can tell some one else, but not me because I believe that there is no person who would like to see his/her loved one’s suffering, and death be shown like a movie episod. C’on wake up.

    I note the contents of Abdelilah Boukili above which I fully agree with.

  29. 29 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    December 11, 2008 at 18:13


  30. 30 Brett
    December 11, 2008 at 18:14

    If theres people who care to watch it and the person dying and their loved ones are supportive of the broadcast, who cares? If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Theres plenty of other channels out there. Heres how to solve it.

    *left (or right) hand, pick up remote*
    *press the up or down arrow or better yet the ‘off’ or ‘power’ button*
    *breathe a sigh of relief and get up and do something other than sit on your bum and watch tv*

    Problem solved.

  31. December 11, 2008 at 18:15

    My God! How we love to hear morbid and read about ghoulish stories with such unbridled appetite.

  32. December 11, 2008 at 18:23

    There was a WHYS show (on May 29, 2007) following a Dutch TV station which said that says it would go ahead with a programme in which a terminally ill woman selected one of three patients to receive her kidneys.

    Political parties called for The Big Donor Show to be scrapped.

    In all earnestness, contributors to the show (then presented by Peter Dobbie) discussed the ethics of such a broadcast. Eventually, the broadcast was just a hoax as the presumed patient was just an actress playing the role of a terminally ill woman. The aim was to highlight the country’s shortage of organ donors.

    The difference is that this time the assisted suicide was real. It was not by an actor and the viewers were ” forced” to be the spectators of a scene which is a novelty, at least, in British broadcasting.

  33. 33 Monica in DC
    December 11, 2008 at 18:32

    Since presumably no one is forcing you to watch it, then why not? This is something I don’t get in general. There are shows that people don’t approve of, so they complain about it, and sometimes those shows are removed from air. Well… the way I see it is, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it. I’m tired of busybodies dictating my life.

  34. 34 Brett
    December 11, 2008 at 18:40

    So let me get this straight… It is fine for the hundreds of thousands of ‘fake’ deaths to occur on TV shows movies, etc… It’s ok to see the staged blood, explosions, violence, and ‘killings’ of nearly every time on the screen.

    But it’s not OK to honor a mans request to have his peaceful death broadcasted?

    “Oh but we just like pretending that people are dying and watching their graphic demise on the screens… Yet we like it to be as real as possible (no one wants to watch a 70s or 80s horror anymore)… But OMG! If its real, well then gee wiz that just crosses the line… lets get as clooooooooose as possible making every aspect of what you see on TV believable, but god forbid it actually be real.”

    We want it as real as possible without actually being real… Whats the matter? Afraid of reality?


  35. 35 Anthony
    December 11, 2008 at 18:45

    I wish they would show capitol/corperal punishment on TV. Maybe then these stupid people would try harder to stay outta jail.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  36. 36 viola
    December 11, 2008 at 18:49

    It’s not a good idea to offer death as entertainment. It’s not a good idea to do things that adversely affect the environment, either, but it’s happening because it’s profitable for someone. So if it happens, I say all profits should by law in every country in the world go to the deceased’s inheritors and not one penny to producers, broadcasters, advertisers or anyone else trying to profit from it.

    As one who saw someone die of sudden cardiac arrest, I can testify that it isn’t actually entertaining to see someone die. Any entertainment value would have to be added by the producers of such a broadcast.

  37. 37 Brett
    December 11, 2008 at 18:50

    As far as War Reporting (which was just asked on the world service WHYS statement), well, that needs to be available for those who care to know what goes on. God forbid we in America actually have to see what we are (or were) supporting and the reprocussions of our nations decisions.

  38. 38 Kenny In Florida
    December 11, 2008 at 19:02

    Censorship does more harm than it will ever do good. Do we want our children to grow up as ignorant robots? Death happens, it’s just a fact of life. We will all die one day. Maybe if people could see it, particularly in the case of this man’s assisted suicide, people might be better able to judge if it is something they would consider if the situation ever came when one want to consider such an act. This man is a hero, one who has opened the eyes of many.

  39. December 11, 2008 at 19:03

    I am not sure how we could ever benefit from watching someone else die – whether in the form of terrorism or as an ‘education’, for the sake of it, in a television/ Internet broadcast! Our deep sense of morbidity and debased curiousity especially concerns me. That people, (even in this forum), could feel there is nothing wrong with this extreme violation of our sensibilities is exactly the point I made earlier. The news/ media (narrative) has a way of triviliasing and under-valuing the significance, if not the grief, of this profound moment in the human experience.

  40. December 11, 2008 at 19:06

    I found my friend David with his head stuck in the oven. He was jilted. He said I saved his life. I didn’t think any more of it.
    A friend of mine had a concussion on the rugby field. We took him to hospital and he recovered.
    My boy was tobogganing when his sledge went out of control and headed for the congested road. I dived to save him.
    So life goes on, but if we start conniving and plotting for someone to die, it won’t be long before we decide who should live and who should die.
    Disease, pain and old age are challenges in life which we must face, but never succumb to death without a struggle.

  41. 41 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    December 11, 2008 at 19:08

    Death should not be broadcast gratuitously. In the case of the documentary that was broadcast on British television last night, I think that seeing a dignified death carried out in a correct manner can only help in the debate about the issue.

    A friend who had Tourette’s Syndrome ended his own life because he had become a burden on his family. I believe his decision was misguided, but I firmly believe it was HIS decision alone.

    A person’s life is his own, to continue or to end as he sees fit. If religious people don’t wish to commit suicide, that is their business. They have no right whatever to try to force other people to live by their dogma. Not the terminally ill, nor the physically healthy who chose, for whatever reason, to end their own lives.

    And, before we get too exercised about a dignified, desired death, think about the gruesome death scenes of beheadings and other murders that are regularly posted on the net by religious fanatics. Thoughtful, dignified assisted suicides are in a class apart from the scenes of wanton murder that flash across the net with chilling regularity.

    Donnamarie in Switzerland

  42. 42 Steve
    December 11, 2008 at 19:08

    Hate to bring this news to you, but the stuff you see on TV, not the news, and in films, is FICTION. Those people aren’t really dying. they are acting. if you want to demystify real death, then hide nothing. People defecate themselves the moment they die. Also, autopsies are a real sight. You should see one being done, and if you die young, you’re very likely to have one. Should we show this too?

  43. December 11, 2008 at 19:09

    Indeed, when Battery Park in Lower Manhattan or Trinity Place in the City of London do finally become La Place de la Concord Redux with Global Finance Oligarchs, their charges and enablers being marched en mass to their final breath, world-wide broadcasts should be the order of the day.

  44. December 11, 2008 at 19:10

    @ Brett,

    If I read you correctly, I really take exception with your efforts to blur the line between real death and those staged for the purposes of entertainment on television, etc. These are still horrific and should be cause for real concern. The point, however, is that the actor gets up after the credits end and might even appear in another flick of a similar of different and/ or similar nature, in the case of movies. The dead have no such recourse, unfortunately. The finality of the act, as well as the inclusion of a viewing audience, especially one which cheers in the face of such tragedy, marks a different level in debasement.

  45. 45 Archibald in Oregon
    December 11, 2008 at 19:10


    PLEASE……………I agree with you about Rupert M., but as far as:
    “No broadcaster should ever again be allowed to so flagrantly breach the common standards of the society they belong to.”

    Considering the conduct which occurs in everyday societies all over the world, to speak of common standards is laughable. I think that we reap what we sow and if broadcasting a death brings people closer to the reality and humility that we are all just animated bags of water, who live a short time (relatively) and then die, so be it. The networks would not broadcast it if they did not think that you would be watching.

    What that says about society is that there are no common standards when you have become desensitized to the very act of living and dying, to the point that it is considered entertainment to watch someone die (ie the Circus Maximus).

  46. 46 Steve
    December 11, 2008 at 19:11

    So are suicidial myspace/facebook users going to film their suicides so they can get one last moment of fame?

  47. 47 Archibald in Oregon
    December 11, 2008 at 19:13

    Let them do whatever they want on television, you do not have to watch and if you do not, it will change,because they need you to watch it. Otherwise, it is not practical to continue broadcasting. When societies standards improve, so too will the quality of broadcasting.

  48. 48 Anthony
    December 11, 2008 at 19:22

    We treat death like how Palin thinks about sex, and look what happened to her kid!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  49. 49 Shaun in Halifax
    December 11, 2008 at 19:25

    If somebody wants to broadcast their moment of death, that is nobody’s business but his/her own. If people choose to watch, that’s their business too. Nobody is FORCED to watch that, it is a CHOICE.

    The moral question is pointless here, because it involves a choice on the part of all parties. If I don’t want to watch it, I will change the channel. If you don’t want to watch it, you can change the channel too.

  50. 50 wiseprimus
    December 11, 2008 at 19:30

    I strongly believe such an action adulterates the sanctity of human life. Did they consider the effect it has on our kids?

  51. 51 JFC
    December 11, 2008 at 19:31

    Regarding the idea that people have some fascination for watching death, ask a professional. It is true. But it is not due to a perversion, that they enjoy it as is being suggested by this woman who “forced herself” to watch the program. It is a survival instinct for people to watch injury and death. It teaches us, it puts programming into our subconscious that could someday help us survive a dangerous situation. When you look at a burn victim, your mind stores that information and will force your body to act if ever threatened by fire. Any accident or death has a lesson for the living.

  52. 52 Landskroon
    December 11, 2008 at 19:32

    the first euthanasia was shown on Dutch tv many years ago. Some people are so irritated by the fact the English tv showed this movie that they make me curious. What is moving them? How are they (the American lady..) doing against unwanted euthanasia, committed by your armies towards Afghany- end Iraqi people?
    If an adult wants to die, give him the right to do so. If he wants it to be seen on tv to educate the nation, let it be

  53. 53 Rebecca Bruno
    December 11, 2008 at 19:35

    Why is this such a big deal? We love watching death! We can watch hundreds die violent bloody dramatized for our entertaiment any given night and do so happily. Why is it ok to watch fake death but not a real one?

  54. December 11, 2008 at 19:37


    C4 in the UK showed an autopsy 2 years ago. I missed it but I would have liked to have watched it. As you say to de mystify issues like this you have to show the whole thing, warts and all.

  55. 55 Pavel Maximov
    December 11, 2008 at 19:37

    I have not seen the program that is being discussed, but I suppose I can share my opinion anyway.
    Exhibitionism is frowned upon not because exposing one’s private parts to the general public harms the exhibitionist, but because it can harm the public, especially, the least protected part of it – children.
    I believe the case of Craig and Mary here is exhibitionism of a sort. It was fine for Craig to allow filming the moment of his death and, thus, make his death public. It is not ok, however, to exhibit this to the public.
    The television, movies, videogames already feed us and, more importantly, our children with excessive amount of sex and violence. Do we want to feed our children with footage of death?
    I think this is a first step on the road that leads us very far in a very dangerous direction.

  56. 56 Steve
    December 11, 2008 at 19:38

    Another picture that really bothered me, was also in that life Magazine Book, it showed the last US casualty in Germany, minutes before the cease fire was to go into effect. They show a picture of him alive, then minutes later he gets shot by a german sniper, and the photographer takes a picture of his lifeless body, face covered, with a pool of virtually all of his blood next to it. Just minutes before the war was to end, he gets killed, someone photographs it. what’s the point?

  57. 57 Ogola Benard
    December 11, 2008 at 19:38

    I imagine a pressman working tirelessly to cover a caption about how someone dies? Even this animals we beef on a routine struggle before they are actually slaughtered!

  58. 58 Kenny In Florida
    December 11, 2008 at 19:38

    Why is it o.k. to show and “stage” death for entertainment purposes, like many have pointed out on this blog happens, but showing the “real” thing wrong? All this “FICTIONAL” death is what really de-sympathizes us to death, maybe watching, or even better, really seeing death can stop and make people think.

  59. 59 Kenny In Florida
    December 11, 2008 at 19:40

    @ Steve,
    The point is that this is what really happens in life. It’s that simple.

  60. 60 Steve
    December 11, 2008 at 19:45

    @ Kenny

    Seeing real death doesn’t stop anything. Did the vietnam war pics perhaps end the war sooner? Perhaps, but it didn’t stop Vietnam from going to war with cambodia, the khmer rouge. People will kill, and people will be killed, regardless if we film it. You’d think there would never have been war again after WW1 given all the carnage. There have been incredibly graphic war photographs for very long times. It has never prevented war. And it never will prevent war.

  61. 61 Brady in Portland Oregon
    December 11, 2008 at 19:47

    I think that people should be able to see death, in war especially. I feel that we are to removed from it, particularly in the United States and western Europe. If people had to actually see what was happening, perhaps we would not be as tolerant of war actions committed by our own countries. All we have to actually think of now, are numbers.

  62. 62 Teri
    December 11, 2008 at 19:49

    No one has mentioned the profit/glory motive yet and how corrupting those influences can be. I would hate to see a world where paparazzi were dogging the dying or vulnerable in the hopes of capturing there death on film.

  63. 63 Venessa
    December 11, 2008 at 19:50

    If you don’t like what is on tv or the interenet avert your eyes. It really is that simple.

  64. 64 Monica in DC
    December 11, 2008 at 19:51

    @ wiseprimus

    you wrote:

    “Did they consider the effect it has on our kids?”

    Did you seriously let your kids watch it?

  65. December 11, 2008 at 19:52

    I will agree that the termination of life should be broadcast, when the making of life should be allowed to be broadcast. What would be more natural or more distressful, the lovemaking between 2 people or death of one person?

    Luis Garrido,
    Bonita Springs, Florida, USA

  66. 66 Kenny In Florida
    December 11, 2008 at 19:54

    @ Steve,
    I agree with you, showing the photo probably had no real impact on ending the war, and none of it ever will end war. But the fact is, that this stuff happens, whether we see it or not and more importantly, whether we like it or not. I for one would rather be well-informed and be aware of the situations, be it pictorially or editorially than be in blissful ignorance of the actual carnage, depravity and graphical nature of the situations. I can recall the saying, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. I think this extremely true, especially in the situation we are discussing.

  67. December 11, 2008 at 20:11

    To show deaths which are caused by groups who will then glorify their actions using the footage shown on television, and showing deaths organisations want broadcasters to show in order to generate publicity and/or inspire more murder is wrong. Showing suicide is wrong if the context is such that the immages could be used by pro-suicide organisations to inspire more suicide. Showing euthanasia in the context of last night’s programme on Sky is justified. It is a matter that is in the public interest. People already know that assisted suicides most often end in people dying, so if they watch a programme about euthanasia, they should expect that the programme may contain footage of a man dying. The footage in that programme was significant, because it showed the result of euthanasia, a man at peace after enduring pain.

  68. December 11, 2008 at 20:16

    It’s a sick question Chloe.
    Stop this sensationalist stuff.

    Use the WHYS platform for something better than this kind of emotive rubbish.



  69. December 11, 2008 at 20:18

    Stupid questions beg stupid answers.


  70. December 11, 2008 at 20:22

    Actually I am going to complain to the BBC about this kind of ‘wind up’ use of what is essentially licence payers money. It has just been getting worse. One wind up question after another. An abuse of an international forum.

    Stop it now please and ask some serious questions.

    Maybe it’s fun for you, but at this end it looks like a waste of time and resource.


  71. 71 Jennifer
    December 11, 2008 at 20:23

    Re: I will agree that the termination of life should be broadcast, when the making of life should be allowed to be broadcast. What would be more natural or more distressful, the lovemaking between 2 people or death of one person?

    I think it is important to consider the reason that someone would choose to watch someone’s death. There is value to seeing the end of a person’s life for some people in that it provides the reality of what will happen to everyone at some time. I know people who are afraid of death. The thought of dying scares them and maybe if they could see it firsthand they would be less afraid of it.

  72. December 11, 2008 at 20:23

    btw. I assume you get paid for posing such stupid questions.


  73. 73 VictorK
    December 11, 2008 at 20:54

    @Archibald: I think – though I may be wrong – that the bulk of people in the UK don’t support this kind of broadcast. I think there is a consensus about this. We have many broadcasters, the worst being Channel 4 at its most irresponsibly avant garde, who take a gleeful and adolescent delight in transmitting material that’s calculated to flout conventional standards. Broadcasters don’t have a right to air material that’s offensive to public morals or good taste. Unfortunately the regulators who are supposed to monitor and, if necessary, prevent or levy penalties for such broadcasts, often take an excessively libertarian view of their responsibilties, and are invariably far more liberal than the public whose interests they are supposed to represent. Elite dissonance and decadence.

    The ‘switch the channel’ argument made by several posters strikes me as another mark of decadence. It’s only possible to those who have no serious values and standards (which is what permissiveness amounts to), and who imagine a society can survive without upholding and being bound together by common values and standards. The mullahs whose mantra is ‘It is forbidden’ understand something that liberals don’t, and have far more moral health than the liberals who don’t know why they should forbid anything (though I suspect they, and Channel 4, wouldn’t be too keen about broadcasting a partial birth abortion, but on political rather than moral grounds).

  74. 74 audrey
    December 11, 2008 at 21:19

    When this sort of thing is going on in the world, we waste our time worrying about the right of a person to choose death over suffering.

    Let’s try to get our priorities straight.


  75. 75 Jens
    December 11, 2008 at 22:49

    i personally think it’s a little tasteless, but then whom am i to tell anybody what is tastefull and what’s not.

    as plenty have said, you don’t like don’t watch it, as simple as that.

  76. 76 Vijay
    December 11, 2008 at 23:27


    What about the Netherlands troops in Bosnia,I think that told us all we needed to know about what your society has become,rather than fight and die they just sat in the corner and let 7000 Bosnian Muslims be “unwantedly euthanised”.

  77. 77 DENNIS
    December 12, 2008 at 03:19

    Maybe, with many & many WARNINGS and advisories should be announced…and it should be done on the…public airwaves!

  78. 78 David
    December 12, 2008 at 17:57

    Good on you Thea Winter. At lease you did not waste your energy. The answer must be NO

  79. 79 David
    December 12, 2008 at 18:19

    51 JFC

    December 11, 2008 at 7:31 pm
    Regarding the idea that people have some fascination for watching death, ask a professional. It is true. But it is not due to a perversion, that they enjoy it as is being suggested by this woman who “forced herself” to watch the program. It is a survival instinct for people to watch injury and death. It teaches us, it puts programming into our subconscious that could someday help us survive a dangerous situation. When you look at a burn victim, your mind stores that information and will force your body to act if ever threatened by fire. Any accident or death has a lesson for the living.

    I have never thought of what JFC said above, but I now think differently.

  80. 80 McCulloch-Kerr Andrew
    December 12, 2008 at 23:16

    Hi Kids,

    Staged death and mutilation in films, plays, and general entertainment is fake and we all know it, even our kids, who are often more aware of this than the adults. It is a form of recreation of adrenaline stimulation, adventure, fantasy, and sometimes a laugh, but, primarily safe. Does someone seriously think it is real or a conditioning ground for desensitisation? Get real!

    Defecation is a natural process, should we have poo shows? Let’s leave the theatre out of reality, fakes are fakes and known to be so. News footage and war footage are lessons and help people make decisions within their minds and judgements, perhaps building a morality and sense of right and wrong. In this case honesty is constructive, if not exploited.

    I envisage learning nothing but sadness from media presentations of personal death or suicide. Sure I can refuse to watch, but, T.V. is a captured audience, and difficult to ignore. I choose not to turn off and sit in a corner reading a book out of objection to programme contents. My free will has as much right to not be presented with programmes as to be presented with them. It is indeed a question of choice, but a limited media means therefore limited choice.

    It is not a question of morally bad people object, or who watch, such loading is primitive and only intended to coerce the other parties: Free Will? For you perhaps bur constraint for those you choose to impose

  81. 81 Name: Chloe Age:14 Reason for views: just finished studying euthanasia at school, i have a VERY strong opinion about this!!
    December 13, 2008 at 15:29

    I think that it is good that they showed it on TV because it brought our attention to the subject of euthanasia, people cannot just egnore it, i think the law on it should be changed, and this video will get people to think about how stupid the law is that someone who is going to die cannot die painlessly before their disease gets too bad.

    Imagine if someone close to you had a terminal disease, they would have to go through such trauma, pain and suffering and they inevitably die. if you and they wanted, before they get too ill, i thnk you should be able to go to a lawyer and sign a document stating that when their illness gets too bad, they would like to be put to sleep, painlessly, and gracefully surrounded by the people they love.

    I’m sure that you will agree, death is a horrible thing, but it is worse if you die after going through pain and tourture of a terminal disease first. I understand that people might think that doctors or people could just kill someone then say that they wanted to have euthanasia, but if you had to go to a lawyer and sign a document, then there could be no confusion and the doctor or person would be charged with manslaughter or whatever you call it.

    The person with a terminal disease will die in the end, thats why its terminal, and i thnk its terrible that people cant get someone they love to end their life so them and their family dont have to suffer any more, imagine the pain they would be going through! and knowing all along that they will die in the end, i think its awful.

    As i said in my name thingy, im only 14 and I’ve just finished studying this at school, but already i feel very strongly that the law on euthanasia should be changed.

    thankyou for reading x chloe x

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