Choosing to Die by Terry Pratchett Discussion Questions


We will be doing something a bit different at tonight’s meeting of the Las Vegas Non-Fiction Book Group.  Instead of reading a book to discuss, we will watch a documentary in advance of the meeting, and we will talk about that.  The documentary was made by the fantasy author Terry Pratchett, and it is called Choosing to Die.  It is on YouTube.  Below are the questions I will use to aid discussion.

This documentary is set in the UK, what are the laws relating to euthanasia in the US?

Pratchett says that when he can no longer write his books then he is not sure that he would want to go on living.  Is there anything you feel this way about?

What do you think of Mrs Smedley’s analogy that she would put down a pet if it were suffering?

Who has the right to have a say in an individual’s decision to die?  Government?  Other citizens of the country?  Parents?  Their partner?  God?  Who owns your life?

Do you think the decision to die this way would be easier if you were religious or not?

What are the alternatives to euthanasia?  Suicide?  Dying in a hospice?  Have your partner care for you up to your death?

21% of people who die at Dignitas do not have terminal illnesses but rather have “a weariness of life,” what do you think about this?

Do you feel confident that Dignitas are fully assessing the mental state of the individuals before they are allowed to die?  Is it their responsibility?

If you are Swiss, you can die at home, but if you are a foreigner, they have a house in an industrial estate where you can die.  Would dying here be harder or more unpleasant than at home?

Do you think if euthanasia were legal then people could die too easily, “more or less on a whim,” as Pratchett said?

Are the people who choose to die this way selfish?  Or selfless?

How does Pratchett’s illness of Altzeimer’s complicate a decision to die this way?

How would you feel if your partner/parent/child wanted to die this way?  Would you support them or would you beg them not to?

Should people be allowed to make this choice?

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2 Responses to Choosing to Die by Terry Pratchett Discussion Questions

  1. I haven’t seen this documentary yet, but it sounds like it would make an excellent discussion. I think Oregon is the only US state with right-to-die legislation. Still, a person must have been diagnosed with a terminal illness in order to be euthanized.

    I strongly believe that the right to die lies at the hands of the individual and the individual alone (all the more case for advance directives). I don’t consider being hooked up to life support for an extended period of time a means to die via natural causes. Oftentimes it is a gross misuse of science, uneconomical and undignified.

    • Claire Ady says:

      I think the problem in legislating something like this is in the grey areas. what is a terminal illness? we’re all going to die of something eventually. the two people who die in this documentary are not in a physical or mental state that I would consider worth ending my life over, but they would probably have to got to one eventually. I may not have made the choices they did, but I wish they had the right to die in their own country. It’s an excellent documentary but very sad.

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