A WEARSIDE academic has waded into the debate on assisted dying after the controversial suicide of Hayley Cropper on Coronation Street.
Millions of viewers tuned in to the popular ITV soap-opera to see the terminally-ill character take her own life and end her battle with pancreatic cancer.
The dramatic storyline, which saw Hayley down a cocktail of drugs before dying in the arms of her weeping husband, who was opposed to the decision, has provoked further discussion about the “right to die”.
But Dr Kevin Yuill, Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Sunderland, maintains that governments around the world should not legalise assisted suicide.
The publication of his new book, Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation, also comes as Westminster is due to debate whether to legalise it under proposals by Lord Falconer.
The academic warns that governments should not define some citizens’ lives as burdens, or not worth living.
“Why would we say that we will assist those with terminal illnesses who have suicidal wishes and not others?” said Dr Yuill.
The senior lecturer differs with many others who oppose assisted suicide in that he says some suicides can be “noble acts of self-sacrifice”.
“Most suicides are overwhelmingly bad events and even humanists should not be afraid to regard them as wrong,” he said.
“Assisted suicide puts the Government in the business of judging which are right and which are wrong before they take place.”
Dr Yuill said the book also differs from many other anti-assisted suicide accounts in that it argues that abortion should be legal and safe.
Whereas access to abortion is important for women’s freedom, suicide is something that every determined person can accomplish for themselves, he said.
“Women are more autonomous for having this choice, whereas no one is freer by allowing others to help them die,” he said.
“Suicide is an issue that can only be decided in the dark recesses of the mind.
“To be or not to be is the subject of a soliloquy, not a committee meeting or legislation.”
The book presents an up-to-date analysis of arguments for and against assisted suicide that has been a topic of debate across the UK in recent years.
Last year, Tony Nicklinson lost his case against assisted suicide before passing away after refusing food. The book is available now at www.amazon.co.uk