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How To Die: Simon's Choice

The dramatic and poignant story of one man facing a heart wrenching decision of whether to end his life at a suicide clinic.

About the programme

Simon is a successful business man with a loving family and large circle of friends whose world falls apart when he is diagnosed with an aggressive form of motor neurone disease and given two years to live. Within weeks of the diagnosis the disease causes Simon to lose the use of his voice. Faced with the prospect of a rapid physical decline, Simon tells his family that he is considering ending his life at a Swiss suicide clinic.

This Open University/BBC coproduction is filmed and directed by award-winning filmmaker Rowan Deacon. This intimate and deeply moving film follows Simon and his family and friends as they grapple with the huge moral, emotional and legal dilemmas around Simon's choice. Their conflicting perspectives unearth difficult questions for Simon which mean that his heart-wrenching decision is hanging in the balance until the very end.

Shot against the back-drop of the recent parliamentary debate on the assisted dying bill, Simon’s remarkable story explores the complex human questions at the heart of this deeply divisive issue.

Simon Binner from BBC series How to Die

Copyright: Graham Smith - Minnow Films

Meet the OU experts

Dr Sam Murphy, Associate Head of School, Health, Social Care 
Dr Sam MurphyAssociate Head of School, Health and Social CareVIEW FULL PROFILE
Dr Sam Murphy, Associate Head of School, Health, Social Care 
Dr Sam MurphyAssociate Head of School, Health and Social Care

I joined the Open University in June 2010 to work on K260, Death and dying. Up until then I had been a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Westminster.

Since joining the OU I have worked on modules at all levels of the undergraduate programme in Health and Social Care as well as our Masters in Advancing Healthcare Practice. I have been academic adviser on several co-productions (with both the BBC and Channel 4) including the BAFTA-nominated documentary How to Die: Simon's Choice.

I was appointed Assistant Head of the Department of Health and Social Care in November 2015 and, since August 2016 I have been Head of the Health and Social Care Curriculum Area. 

My specific interest in the area of death and dying is pregnancy loss and my ESRC-funded doctoral research, undertaken at the University of Surrey, was a sociological exploration of parental experiences of stillbirth.  I am also a member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society and the British Sociological Association.

Professor Derek Matravers, Professor, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
Professor Derek MatraversProfessor - Faculty of Arts & Social SciencesVIEW FULL PROFILE
Professor Derek Matravers, Professor, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
Professor Derek MatraversProfessor - Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences

Derek Matravers read for a degree in Philosophy at University College, London, after which he completed a Ph.D. at Darwin College, Cambridge. He was supervised by Hugh Mellor on the topic of ‘Art and the Emotions’. He spent a further three years in Cambridge as a post-doctoral Research Fellow before moving to The Open University in 1994. He has written on various areas of aesthetics and the philosophy of art, as well as in ethics and the philosophy of mind.

He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge.

He has held visiting positions at the University of Latvia, the University of British Columbia, the University of Otago, Shanghai Normal University, Rhodes University, South Africa, and Auckland University.

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