Tag Archives: Coronation Street

Your reactions to the suicide storyline in Coronation Street

Coronation Street sign
(photo by Andrea_44)

Tonight the ITV Soap Coronation Street will see Hayley Cropper, a character who has pancreatic cancer, end her life.

As the Metro says “stand by your tissues”. If the build-up is anything to go by there is sure to be a strong reaction. Here is a bit of a spoiler on Digital Spy.

Over the weekend the debate continued.

Former Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson says this storyline may encourage disabled or ill people to take their own lives. While Daily Mail commentator Peter Hitchens’ take on the Corrie’s storyline and the ensuing debate is “the worst thing is that this sort of propaganda by melodrama bypasses wisdom and reason”.

We asked people on Facebook and Twitter what they thought

Kevin said:

“The storyline is about suicide, not assisted suicide. Everyone already has the ‘right’ to kill themselves like Hayley. I agree with Ian Penfold – let’s help the living to live, not the dying to die. 2. It is at least a strange coincidence that the story appears just as Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill is being launched. 3. Telling some people that suicide is fine as their lives are valueless because they fulfill certain physical criteria WILL impact upon disabled people….”

But those views aren’t shared by Donna who said:

“As a severely disabled person, since birth I think it should be an individual’s choice whether to end their life with dignity. As long as that person is of sound mind. I live with constant pain as my body won’t tolerate painkillers. It is hard to explain to someone how bad the pain is. Most people think they understand pain, but take my word for it, there are many different types of severe pain, and unless you have experienced bone pain for example you can’t possibly know how demoralising it is to live with day in and day out.”

Alison’s post was particularly poignant:

“I am in the last few weeks/months of my life according to the consultants, I am only 47, I will not allow myself to become a shell of the person I am, I will not and do not want to let my children watch me struggle much more with the pain I am living with. I want the right to a dignified end, an end where my mind is sound and I have been able to have conversations with the people I love.”

Christine thinks the storyline has been “very well done” and:

“This is a case of a women who is aware of her choices and made them after careful thought. She knows why she wants to do it. It’s not like she had a bad day and then decided to end it on a 5 minute decision. This argument has been around far longer than the coronation street storyline and soaps tend to mirror real life issues. The fact is the character is going to die at some point. People with disabilities may live a long life, but with excruciating pain and loss of quality of life.”

Susan added:

“Assisted suicide was covered in Emmerdale, in a tragic storyline and the legal ramifications that followed. I can’t recollect any call for a change in the law with that storyline.

Corrie’s storyline is the suicide of a person with terminal cancer. I don’t see how the leap can be made. I’m very unsure about assisted suicide. I understand the point of view of helping somebody who wants to die but can’t do it for themselves but I can also see how it can be abused not just by relatives but by officials etc. And the way this country is at the moment I can see such a law I can see disabled people being persuaded to die when they don’t want to.”

Michelle said on the Scope blog:

“As the mother of three disabled children, two of whom are severe learning disabled this frightens me! I can see some state doctor making the decision to euthanize my children when they are adults as the most economical option, rather than pay the high expense to care for them properly. It’ll be a sad day for society when that happens!”

Tonight, the proof of the pudding will be in the watching. We have to wait and see what happens, but the debate will continue, and as this headline in the Western Daily Press says: “From Tony Nicklinson to Hayley Cropper, the right to die debate is not going away”.

Corrie suicide doesn’t tell us anything about the law and guidance on assisted suicide

Post from Alice Maynard, Chair of Scope

Alice MaynardWhy is it when someone who is not disabled wants to commit suicide we try to talk them out of it and offer them support, but when a disabled person wants to commit suicide we focus on how we can make that possible? That’s the question that’s been on my mind the last few days.

This week news broke of the story-line in Coronation Street about Hayley Cropper – a long standing character who has pancreatic cancer and is terminally ill. It’s compelling and heart-breaking. It’s sparked much discussion about dying. Something we don’t do enough. Unfortunately that debate has been seized on by campaigners – led by Lord Falconer – who want to legalise assisted suicide. First, let’s be clear: the issues raised in the soap – the character is taking her own life without the help of her husband – don’t tell us anything about the law and guidance on assisted suicide.

What the storyline should remind us is that death is very much final; death is terminal.  And this is why I am completely against any change in the law on assisted suicide. The campaign to legalise assisted suicide completely turns on its head the accepted approach of supporting someone if they feel suicidal. It ignores the fact that circumstances can change, pain can be managed, limited life can be discovered to be worth living.

The campaign instead feeds on the view that some lives just aren’t worth living. It plays into negative attitudes about disability that stubbornly refuse to be consigned to history. You don’t need to look very far for attitudes such as this. A Cornwall councillor last year said disabled children should be put down. Even some medical and social care professionals make negative assumptions about disabled people’s quality of life.

For disabled people the current law on assisted suicide sends a really powerful message that these kind of negative attitudes are not acceptable. But more than that they are a safeguard from anyone acting on those attitudes and turning them into something much worse

Legalising assisted suicide would mean the most fundamental of human right of disabled people like myself – the right to life – being violated. The campaigners argue that safeguards can be put in place. But these are completely inadequate.

In May politicians will again debate changing the law. Previous bills have been rightly rejected. I hope they will reject this one too. And I hope the public will similarly reject the bid by campaigners to hi-jack an insightful and valuable soap story-line.

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.