DisBeat Compiles Resource Hub Related to Protest of "Me Before You"


DisBeat Compiles Resource Hub Related to Protest of "Me Before You"

As the disability community organizes to protest the release of "Me Before You" for its portrayal of disability and pro euthanasia message, DisBeat has worked with activists from around the world to create an informational hub. DisBeat compiled a list of articles, social media, action alerts, and other resources for media outlets and individuals who wish to better understand the disability community's outrage over "Me Before You."

"Me Before You" is the latest film promoting the antiquated theme that it is better to be dead than disabled. This film grossly misrepresents the lived experience of disabled people around the world. The film is centered on the story of a 30-something recently disabled man named Will, who falls in love with the 'carer' (Louisa) who is hired to convince him life is worth living over the six months she works for him. In spite of their mutual attraction, Will reinforces the myth that disabled people cannot have sex, when he tells Louisa this is one of the reasons he wants to kill himself - since he cannot have sex with her the way he might want to if he were not using a wheelchair. In truth, many disabled people have quite fulfilling sex lives with partners who may or may not be disabled themselves.

Despite Louisa's opposition and her insistence that their love for one another is enough to have a good life, the hero does the "honorable" thing by killing himself through assisted suicide. At the end of the day, Will leaves a part of his fortune for Louisa so she can move on and "live boldly" without him. "Me Before You" is little more than a disability snuff film, one from a long line of films (Whose Life Is It Anyway?, The Sea Inside, Million Dollar Baby) that gives audiences the message if you're a disabled person, you are better off dead. Considering Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have already legalized assisted suicide, and California's AS law goes into effect on June 9, 2016, the disability community is deeply troubled by the dangerous implications this film, and others like it, may have on newly disabled people who do not have the lived experience of life with a disability. There is a high probability these individuals may internalize negative media myths about having a disability, and may feel they are going to be a burden on those who love them.

Those advocating for assisted suicide believe the battle to allow people with disabilities or chronic and terminal health conditions to kill themselves is about choice. However, for those actually living with a disability or health condition, the truth is, choice is too often completely removed. For twenty years, Not Dead Yet – The Resistance has been reframing the assisted suicide debate through the lens of disability politics, power and pride: http://notdeadyet.org/.

Currently, there are around one million people in the United States with spinal cord injuries and disorders, and according to United Spinal Association, a national organization that offers programs to promote independence and well-being for individuals with spinal cord injuries and diseases, there are approximately 17,000 newly injured people each year with traffic accidents being the leading cause of injury. These numbers are in addition to the millions of other disabled people in the United States who have chronic health conditions and visible or invisible disabilities, and who deal daily with problematic symptoms, such as pain, that are associated with their disabilities. For United Spinal’s Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center and peer support, visit: http://www.spinalcord.org/.

People with disabilities face multiple barriers to health care and personal assistance services, lack of access to adequate therapy options, and even the inability to receive equipment and assistive technology to encourage independence. This is equally true for people with terminal illnesses who struggle to obtain, or may even be unaware of, the palliative care and related supports they should be able to count on receiving if they need or want it.

For insurance entities, both private and public, that implement increasingly narrow “managed care” approaches, death is the most cost-advantageous outcome. As a result, in states like Oregon where assisted suicide is legal, (and which is on the brink of being legal in California as of June 9, 2016), insurance entities have already demonstrated they are willing to help pay for assisted suicide services, rather than more expensive treatment services per ABC News report, Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5517492

Encouraging individuals with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses to kill themselves instead of helping them to live also affects older Americans, particularly those who live in poverty. As Americans continue to live longer, and the baby boomer generation continues to enter their disability and retirement years, insurance entities are seeing an influx of people needing both health and long-term care supports, including people who have been diagnosed as being terminally ill. The growing demand on both public and private insurance increases the potential to see elderly Americans encouraged, whether subtly or not-so-subtly, to choose death instead.

Instances of elder abuse and the abuse of disabled adults and children are well documented and must be a consideration in states where assisted suicide is legal. Abusive caregivers, heirs to a parent’s or relative’s assets, and a health care system looking for a quick solution for their elderly and disabled “patients” can all manipulate people into feeling like they are a burden to their loved ones. “Being a burden” is one of the leading reasons reported for why people request assisted suicide in Oregon, Vermont, and Washington in addition to the psychological and social reason of feeling a loss of “dignity,” which may reflect the stigma and loss of respect our country often attaches to those who are no longer able to be productive in the workforce. Hollywood reinforces this narrative through movies like The Sea Inside, Million Dollar Baby, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, and now Me Before You, all movies that strongly promote the theme “better dead than disabled.”

These films have the potential to lead to “suicide contagion,” where elder and disabled people are encouraged to see themselves as a burden to their family, friends and society, and, in an act of “self-sacrifice”, decide to kill themselves. Newly disabled individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCIs), who are in the throes of overwhelming immediate post-injury shock, confusion, and depression over the loss of their former physical selves and the uncertainty of an unknown future, are particularly at risk. Instead of encouragement to kill themselves, they need as much emotional support and peer support as physical and medical support, in order to help them deal with this life-changing transition, and to help them learn to live with a disability.

A critical issue is discrimination in how differently society treats suicide when it comes to healthy and nondisabled people. Most individuals living with disabilities and chronic illnesses are not provided therapies for depression or other potential mental health issues when they say they want to kill themselves. Their expressed desire to commit suicide is often met with acceptance by others who have been conditioned, whether by Hollywood or elsewhere, to buy into the myth of “better dead than disabled.” For physically healthy and nondisabled people, society typically goes to great lengths to provide suicide prevention, not suicide assistance, to ensure they do not kill themselves. However, for the disabled person, premature death by suicide is seen as a logical choice.

We want a world where disabled people, older Americans, and those with chronic health conditions have what they need to live as independently and self-sufficiently as possible. We want a world where people whose health conditions are in the terminal stages can count on receiving the full range of palliative care and related supports in their time of need. Millions of dollars, and a lot of lip service, are spent every year in support of assisted suicide. While savvy marketers have presented assisted suicide as being about “choice” and “rights”, for the disability and aging community, it is really about myths, managed care, and media-reinforced stereotypes that threaten our survival, and our desire to be fully included and participating as valued members of our communities


Not Dead Yet Resources

Action Alert

Template Release



Road to Freedom Tour Blog: Me Before You - A Disability Nightmare

May 29, 2016

Janine Bertram: http://roadtofreedomtour.blogspot.com/2016/05/me-before-you-disability-nightmare.html

Me Before You: Or If You Die I Can Live

May 30, 2016

Ashtyn Law: http://ashtynlaw.com/2016/05/me-before-you-or-if-you-die-i-can-live/

FORBES: Will Protests Against "Me Before You's" Disability Representation Affect Opening Weekend Profits

May 31, 2016

Jennifer Baker


CHICAGO TRIBUNE: 'Me Before You' perpetuates idea that the disabled should consider suicide

June 1, 2016

Ben Mattlin


“Me Before Ableist B.S.”

Things No One Ever Tells You

May 27, 2016


“People Are Calling Out Me Before You for Its Portrayal of Disability”


May 26, 2016


“’Me Before You’ Criticized by Advocates Over Portrayal of a Disabled Character”


May 26, 2016


“What Me Before You Gets Wrong About Disability”


May 26, 2016


“Why Some Disability Rights Activists are protesting ‘Me Before You’”


May 26, 2016


“Emilia Clarke’s Me Before You premiere targeted by disability rights campaigners”


May 26, 2016


“Why I Blocked All Advertisements for ‘Me Before You’”

Claiming Crip

May 26, 2016


“’Me Before You’ Criticized for Its Portrayal of Disability”

HuffPost Entertainment

May 25, 2016


“People Are Annoyed About How ‘Me Before You’ Represents Disability”


May 25, 2016


Me Before You Draws Criticism – and Praise – From Disability Activists”


May 25, 2016


“Spare me, ‘Me Before You’: Hollywood’s new tearjerker is built on tired and damaging disability stereotypes”


May 24, 2016


“’Why Are You Complaining? Some People Actually Feel That Way’: A Critique of ‘Me Before You’”

HuffPost Accessibility

May 23, 2016


Originally posted on Crippledscholar: https://crippledscholar.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/why-are-you-complaining-some-people-actually-feel-that-way-a-critique-of-me-before-you/

“Hollywood Promotes the Idea It Is Better to Be Dead Than Disabled”

Dominick Evans

February 11, 2016




Video: Me Before You film sparks disability protest

The Guardian

May 27, 2016


Video: Why does Hollywood keep doing this to the disability community?

The Daily

February 12, 2016



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Sexuality Resources

Content provided by Dr. Mitchell Tepper, sexologist


Male Fertility Following Spinal Cord Injury: A Guide For Patients Second Edition

By Nancy L. Brackett, Ph.D., HCLD Emad Ibrahim, M.D. Charles M. Lynne, M.D. 2011


PleasureABLE Sexual Device Manual for People With Disabilities. Kate Naphtali and Edith MacHattie, MOT Disabilities Health Research Network 2009.


Pregnancy and Woman with Spinal Cord Injury. Amie McLain, MD, Taylor Massengill, BA, and Phil Klebine, MA SCI MSKTC 2015.


Regain That Feeling: Secrets to Sexual Self-Discovery: People Living With Spinal Cord Injuries Share Profound Insights Into Sex, Pleasure, Relationships, Orgasm, and the Importance of Connectedness Paperback January 13, 2015 by Mitchell S. Tepper, PhD, MPH, 2015.


Sex and Paralysis Video Series. Mitchell S. Tepper, PhD, MPH. 2013. http://www.drmitchelltepper.com/sex_and_paralysis_video_series

Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Adults with Spinal Cord

Injury: What You Should Know, A Guide for People with Spinal Cord Injury. Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine and Paralyzed Veterans of America. 2011. http://www.pva.org/atf/cf/%7BCA2A0FFB-6859-4BC1-BC96-6B57F57F0391%7D/WHAT%20YOU%20SHOULD%20KNOW.PDF

The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain, and Illness Paperback use pre formatted date that complies with legal requirement from media matrix – November 28, 2007

by Miriam Kaufman (Author), Cory Silverberg (Author), Fran Odette (Author)

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Magee Rehabilitation, "Sexuality-Spinal Cord Injury Manual" (2009). Spinal Cord Injury Manual (English). Manual 17.


Through the Looking Glass National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families


United Spinal Association Spinal Cord Resource Center



Suicide Prevention Resources

United States

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


TTY: 1-800-799-4889

En Español: 1-888-628-9454

24/7 Crisis Chat: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx




Veterans Crisis Line (a partnership of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)

1-800-273-8255, then press 1

Crisis Text: 838255

TTY: 1-800-799-4889

24/7 Veterans Chat: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ChatTermsOfService.aspx?account=Veterans Chat


7 Cups of Tea

Online text chat with trained listeners, online therapists & counselors; also offers self-care advice and therapist listings:


MHA Mental Health America

Find advice, support, and your local MHA chapter: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

American Association of Suicidology

Find information, support and training:


Recommendations for Reporting on Suicidehttp://www.suicidology.org/Portals/14/docs/Resources/RecommendationsForReportingOnSuicide_swm.pdf

Befrienders Worldwide

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