Accepted paper:

The contested state and labour of death: assisted suicide in care


Janet Owen Driggs (Artist/writer)

Paper short abstract:

What more common experience do we have than the experience of death, and what about our right to a "good death"? My father, Peter Owen, his body polluted by asbestos, committed suicide on January 15th.

Paper long abstract:

This paper reveals the experience of another human being rendered disposable by capitalism, but prevented from disposing of his own body by moralistic British legislation. Such legislation appears to uphold the "sanctity" of life, but is merely a shroud for a gruesome truth. Such "unhappy accidents" as industrial illness, environmental depredation, and poverty, will not be prevented by diligence and regulation, for they are prerequisites of profit. The personal engine of my experience with my father's suicide, and the weeks leading up to that quest for help, entailed an investigation of real options - suicide hood, pills, hypothermia—and their ramifications for both Dad and I, which revealed how bound by ludicrous conventions and misplaced "respect" for life our actions are. This paper explores the journey of a dying man who, as he remembered his life, sought ways to end it, as a starting point from which to detail what may be possible and what help is available to those who seek to end their life and the relatives that want to help them.

panel LD14
Disjunctions of deathscapes: ways of suffering, dying, and death