In the season 3 finale of Girls we are introduced to a paralyzed artist who wakes up miserable everyday and is disappointed when she realizes she did not pass away in the night. Jessa is on the hunt for a new job and she randomly walks into the gallery where Marnie works and meets the artist and gets offered a job. Jessa is meant to help organize the artist’s personal archives in her house. With a twist, we learn that she has hired Jessa to help her die. Since Jessa is no stranger to illegal drug use, she was hoping that Jessa would help score her pills to help her overdose. Reluctantly, Jessa acquires the pills and helps her go through with it. After digesting the pills, the artist realizes that she does not want to die and has Jessa call 911.
In a different sense, the issue of assisted suicide is an ongoing theme on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Once a person dies and turns (into a walker/zombie), should one kill the walker that he/she became? Recall that the Farmer was purposely keeping his wife and friends who had turned in the barn and actively helping them survive by feeding them. Fast forward to the prison shelter, where we met the two little girls Lizzie and Mika. The children had a difficult time understanding why the walkers had to die, since they are still “people.” Lizzie gets killed off after she kills her younger sister Mika. It was clear that Lizzie did not understand that there was a difference in killing a walker and killing Mika. Lizzie kills Mika in order to show that she would come “back to life” and still be the Mika they know and love. The ongoing assumption the adult characters have is that being a walker is an intolerable state of being and they must be put out of their misery.
In Girls, the issue is about whether you can help someone die because they have requested it. In The Walking Dead, the issue is whether you can kill a zombie assuming that the person they were before would want to be killed. No doubt these are two distinct ethical issues but they both make us think about the conditions under which it is permissible to help someone die –zombie or not. Recently, assisted suicide has gotten sustained political attention. In Canada, the debate over the right to die, some say, is coming to an end. Physician assisted suicide is thought to be on the verge of becoming legal. (See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/mp-steven-fletcher-says-legal-doctor-assisted-suicide-is-inevitable-1.2588776). In certain U.S. states (Oregon, Washington, and Vermont), physician assisted suicide is legal.