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How Do You Feel About Assisted Suicide, This Article May Give You Mixed Emotions

Tony Nicklinson
(Jane Nicklinson – AP)

A British man who was suffering from a condition known as "locked-in syndrome" died at home Wednesday after a protracted battle with Britain's High Court over his right to an assisted suicide.

Nicklinson, 58, was paralyzed from the neck down and described his condition as “dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable." In January he asked the Court that any doctor who helped end his life not be charged with murder. The Court ruled against him last week.

Nicklinson reacted to the decision with publicly-aired anguish, began refusing food and contracted pneumonia, his lawyer told CNN.

One interesting aspect of Nicklinson's case is the way he communicated with the world. Earlier this year, British Channel 4 posted a clip of Nicklinson sending his first tweet using a special computer that tracks his eye movements:

"My name is Tony Nicklinson…seven years ago I had a major stroke that left my body completely paralyzed but my mind unharmed. There is no cure," he said.

Prior to the 2005 stroke, Nicklinson was a former corporate manager and rugby player.

He had become a rather prolific tweeter since then, and his messages ranged from borderline jolly to poignant:

His response to the high-court ruling came in five tweets, which together read:

"It is not the result I was hoping for but it isn't entirely unexpected. Judges, like politicians, are happiest when they can avoid confronting the real issues and this judgement is not an exception to the rule. I believe the legal team acting on my behalf is prepared to go all the way with this but unfortunately for me it means yet another period of physical discomfort, misery and mental anguish while we find out who controls my life -- me or the state."


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  • Can’t tell

    My father suffered from PSP (Progressive Supernucler Palsey) for 5 years, the last 2 were miserable for him. After one year of discussing this with his family (my mother, my sister and me) we decided to look into the Hemlock Society (http://hemlockflorida.org/). It was planned, we were all there, we had Dom Pérignon, and followed through with his exit plan. This was something we discussed, thought about learned about and prayed about. There was pain and discomfort for my father. My father had lived 75 years, made an impact on those whom he knew, was a super father, wonderful grandpa, and a great husband to my mother.
    It was a special time for our family, and we all had a time to say goodbye, and be there when he died. Since his disease was terminal, he was on Hospice, and everything went just fine even though it was against the law where we live.
    It is not a bad thing.