All in the family: Media presentations of family assisted suicide in Britain

Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, Albert Banerjee, Steve Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a preliminary investigation of the press coverage of family assisted suicide in Britain during the mid to late 1990s. The newspaper articles we examine focus on court cases in which a family member had been charged with assisting a terminally ill relative to put an end to their lives. The paper aims to typify basic characteristics of the coverage and to explore their potential political implications. The observations reveal a consistently supportive stance towards family assisted suicide that is produced by depictions of dying persons and perpetrators as autonomous and conscientious individuals; by idyllic portrayals of family relations; and by praising judges for their lenient verdicts. Presentations of the law as a dated State system, as well as the marginalization of opposing voices, further enhanced the supportive message. We suggest that the commending of actors' self-reliance and the call for decreased State interference in personal affairs aligns with the neo-liberal spirit that has come into prominence in Britain since the 1980s. Within this context, we raise some questions regarding the broader political significance of such media representations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2153-2164
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Euthanasia
  • Family assisted suicide
  • Media
  • Neo-liberalism
  • State
  • UK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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