If you could choose to die, would you do it?
There are clinics in some parts of the world that help people die. This is for people with incurable diseases or other very serious conditions. But is it the right thing to do?
This is an extremely sensitive subject to discuss in the classroom — it deals with death and suicide — so you have to approach the topic very carefully. But it could be the kind of lesson that brings up many questions from your students and makes them talk about it at great length.
You can download the full and complete lesson right now. Just click the link down below.
Do you know what euthanasia is?
What do you think of peoples right to die?
The Right To Die
Read the following account from Jane.
It was by far the hardest decision I have ever made in my life.
Not because I didn’t want to do it — I did. I had absolute conviction in doing it.
But I didn’t like what it did to my family. My mother and father were heart-broken. My brother too.
There was no choice though. I was in so much pain and the doctors had tried everything they could to treat me. But nothing worked.
The cancer came when I was at university.
I noticed my hair was falling out and I was losing weight. I didn’t know what it was but I thought maybe it might be stress.
I went to see the doctor and he told me I should have some more tests.
I had an appointment with a specialist. Then I got the bad news. Cancer.
They told me it could be six months, maybe a year and a half at most. I left university. There seemed no point in continuing.
I went home and waited for the inevitable.
But it didn’t happen. Six months went by and I was still alive. There were tests and more tests. Doctors shoved needles into me and took x-rays every week.
They had no answers and could make no promises.
It was totally depressing. Then the pain arrived.
It was like a pain I had never felt before. It seemed to come from deep inside my bones. It was excruciating.
The doctors gave me painkillers for it, but nothing worked. I would lie in my bed at night, too weak to move as it felt like a thousand needles being pushed into my skin.
Then I read about the clinic in Switzerland. A special clinic that can help people to die.
It was like a light went on in the room. This was the answer for me.
I contacted them and they said they had to verify with the doctors to see if I was a valid case. They can’t just help anyone to die. There has to be a very special reason to choose to die with their program.
I talked to my family about it and they just refused immediately. They had hope. They believed there would be a cure. But I knew in my heart there was no cure. There was no hope left at all.
Once the clinic had spoken to my doctors at length they went back to Switzerland. One week later I received an email.
We agree to help you to die.
That’s all it took. Seven days and a short email to end my life.
After that things moved very quickly. A date was set and I was told when to go to Switzerland.
My parents were devastated. They cried all the time before we went there. But they also knew that I could not go on with the life I had.
We got on the plane. Me and my parents. My brother didn’t come with us. He said he couldn’t do it. I understood how he was feeling. I could not say anything to him. We said our goodbyes and I left with just mum and dad.
And now I am here.
It is the last day.
Do I think I have made the right decision? I don’t know. How can you be absolutely sure about something like this? But I know that I don’t want to continue living in a world of pain. I don’t want to die a slow and painful death.
So this is the right choice.
But for my parents it is unbearable.
We will have dinner this evening. Our last meal together.
Then tomorrow it is all over.
Reading Comprehension Questions
What decision has Jane made in her life?
What do her family think about it?
What was the reason for Jane’s decision?
When did Jane find out about the cancer?
What were the symptoms to her body?
What did she think it might be?
How long did the specialist say she had to live?
What did Jane after that?
When did she start to feel the pain in her body?
What did the doctors give her for the pain? Was this successful or not?
How did Jane feel when she found out about the clinic in Switzerland?
How did her family feel about this?
How long before Jane received a reply from the clinic?
Who went with Jane to Switzerland?
How does Jane feel about what she is doing at the end of her story?
in so much pain
a light went on in the room
world of pain
a slow and painful death
Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary
and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.
Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.
Notebook—a small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when
“I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”
When you see the word ‘euthanasia’, what kind of thoughts enter your mind?
Jane has made the decision to end her life by visiting a clinic in Switzerland. What do you think about this?
Is Jane being selfish?
How do you think her parents must feel about it?
How do you think her classmates reacted when Jane told them she had cancer?
There are real clinics like this – usually in Switzerland. What do you think of this kind of service? Should it be allowed?
Do we have the right to die? Why/why not?
What do people think about euthanasia in your country?
What is the legal status of euthanasia in your country?
The word ‘euthanasia’ comes from Ancient Greek which means ‘good death’. What do you think of this translation?
‘Passive euthanasia’ is where someone refuses medication knowing they will die without it. What do you think about this?
‘Non-aggressive euthanasia’ is where hospital staff switch off the life-support machine of that is keeping someone alive. What do you think of this?
Is there any difference between euthanasia, suicide and murder? What are the differences?
Do you think doctors have a duty to keep people alive?
Imagine if someone close to you said they had chosen euthanasia. How would you feel about it? What would you say to this person?
Would you ever consider euthanasia? Under what circumstances?
Are you familiar with the term bucket list?
This is a list of things that people would like to do before they die. It could be places to travel to, food to try, books to read, etc etc.
Examples of items on a bucket list could be:
- See the Northern Lights
- Become Fluent in another Language
- Receive a Big Promotion
- Hike along The Himalayas
- Go Vegan for a Month
- Run a Marathon
- Start my own Business
- Pay Off All Credit Card Debt
- Write a Book
- Visit The Great Wall of China
- Do Exercise Every Day for a Month
- Learn to Say No
You can use some of these items – but try to think of your own things too.
Create a bucket list of things you would like to do or achieve before you die. Then give reasons why you would like to do all of these things.
Why not start work on these goals today?
Debate: Why Euthanasia Is A Good Idea
This is a debate activity.
The class should divide into two groups – for and against.
You should also find a student to chair the debate to ensure that each team gets an equal amount of time speaking.
For Team – You believe that euthanasia is a good choice for the right people. You don’t think everyone should be allowed to choose this, but for people that are suffering or in great pain it may be the only choice left to them.
Against Team – You think euthanasia is a terrible idea. You have strong moral beliefs about life – you believe that life is sacred and should be valued. So for anyone to choose to die makes no sense to you. You think anyone who chooses this should receive other care – but not euthanasia.
Each team should prepare for around fifteen minutes before the debate. Think of good reasons why you are for or against euthanasia.
Then when you are ready, begin the debate.
Write an article about euthanasia.
It should include two or three points you wish to express and an introduction and conclusion.
Then show it to your teacher.
What did your students think of this lesson plan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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