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.
- Family assisted suicide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- History and Philosophy of Science