Frontline

The Suicide Tourist re-airs on PBS, 3/22.

by Cynthia Fuchs

22 March 2011

Assisted suicide raises profound questions concerning both risks and benefits, the potential for abuses versus respect for individual rights, needs, and desires.
 

Craig Ewert is dying. And as he explains in John Zaritzky’s documentary, originally made in 2007 and re-airing on Frontline 22 March at 9pm, as well as online, he wants to feel some measure of control over the process. Thus he and his wife Mary have come to Dignitas, “one of a handful of Swiss groups devoted to helping people end their lives legally.” As Craig puts it, “ “I’m tired of the disease, but I’m not tired of living. And I still enjoy it enough that I’d like to continue. But the thing is, that I really can’t.” He must be the one, legally, to commit the act: he must drink the liquid that will end his life, and agree to be taped doing so. The film tapes the taping, as well as the couple’s loving farewell. Craig’s final moments are rendered in a series of close-ups and dissolves, under the Beethoven movement he has asked to hear. While assisted suicide raises profound questions concerning both risks and benefits, the potential for abuses versus respect for individual rights, needs, and desires, The Suicide Tourist doesn’t engage in these debates. Instead, it observes the Ewerts as they go through this complicated journey.

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