Coronation Street’s controversial suicide storyline

(photo by Paul Walker)
(photo by Paul Walker)

Everyone is talking about Corrie.

Next week Hayley Cropper – a long standing character in the soap who has pancreatic cancer and is terminally ill – will take her own life. 

Every family experiences death, and nobody wants to see or think about their loved ones in pain.

It’s no surprise a touch paper has been lit.  The issue of how Hayley dies has become a major talking point – from the Sun to the Today Programme.

There have been strong reactions. Warnings have been sounded about copycat suicides.

Hayley’s husband is against the suicide. We wait to see what he will do.

The storyline has restarted the national debate on assisted suicide

The Sun backs a change in the law. It’s resident GP gives a heartfelt account of what it’s like to have a relative experience decline and increasing pain…and her wish to be able to end her mother’s suffering.

Meanwhile in the courts the family of Tony Nicklinson – who had locked-in syndrome – and Paul Lamb who was paralysed after a road accident are campaigning to have the right to ask a doctor to help Paul die.

The other side of the debate

However, disabled campaigners and charities, such as Care Not Killing and Not Dead Yet  oppose any weakening of the law. They are worried that it will ferment negative attitudes to disability and lead to disabled people being put under pressure to kill themselves.

As Dr Peter Saunders from Care Not Killing said on the Today Programme “The most concerning thing of all about this is the myth that suicidal thoughts in people who are disabled or sick should be managed differently from similar thoughts in those who are not sick or disabled… It panders to public prejudice in a way that is very, very dangerous.”

Scope’s chief executive Richard, explained the concerns in a blog.

This all comes ahead of an Assisted Dying Bill which could be heard in the Lords as early as May.

Scope has long argued that this is a really important debate, and even more important is that the views of disabled people are heard.

Let us know what you think about this storyline and the ‘right-to-die’ debate that it has sparked.