Case study - Tony Nicklinson

Tony Nicklinson, a man with a condition called locked-in syndrome, who fought for the right to legally end his life, died on 22 August 2012.

The 58 year old was paralysed from the neck down after suffering a stroke in 2005 and described his life as a 'living nightmare'. In the week before his death, Mr Nicklinson lost his High Court case to allow doctors to end his life. From that point he refused food.

Mr Nicklinson had said he was heartbroken by the High Court decision that he could not end his life at a time of his choosing with the help of a new doctor. He had thought that his legal argument would succeed but conceded that he had forgotten about the emotional component to what he was asking.

Mr Nicklinson had made an advanced directive in 2004 refusing any life-sustaining treatment.

For reflection and discussion

  • Do you think the Dalai Lama would approve of the High Court decision against Tony Nicklinson?
  • How may a Buddhist show compassion to people like Tony Nicklinson who are experiencing suffering? Give reasons for your answer.
Move on to Test
next