The 8 Best Documentaries About Assisted Suicide (Ranked)

Death. We all face it. Sorry, a bummer subject, I know.

But for those in terminal pain, it helps to have options.

One solution is “physician-assisted suicide” (aka “assisted dying”, “right to die”, “euthanasia”,).

It’s an option that 1.12% of Canada uses.

I have a Swiss relative (70 years old) who knows two people who used the Dignitas assisted dying method (more on Dignitas below — they are the most popular solution).

It costs about $10,000 (U.S.) and is available in many parts of the world.

Below are the top documentaries on assisted suicide/dying (ranked in order) if you’d like to learn more:

Note: A Special thanks to Neil Gaman for mentioning the Terry Pratchett documentary on the Tim Ferris Show.

1) Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die

“Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die,” directed by Charlie Russell in 2011, is an intense 59-minute journey.

Sir Terry Pratchett, fantasy legend, explores assisted dying.

Pratchett sits down with Peter Smedley, a millionaire hotelier who suffers from motor neurone disease (MND), and his wife, as Smedley considers assisted suicide.

He says there is no treatment for it.

“I feel I need to go fairly shortly.”

Smedley contacts Dignitas, an assisted death group in Switzerland.

Dignitas has helped 1,100 people to die. Dignitas founder Ludwig Minelli read the European Convention of Human Rights and in Article 8 there is the right to self-determination.

Smedley decides he won’t make a decision until he’s in Switzerland.

In most parts of the world, including England where Smedley lives, you can be arrested for assisting in someone’s voluntary death.

In Belgium, Assisted Suicide has been legal since 2002.

Terry visits the widow of Hugu Clauss who chose Assisted Suicide due to the suffering from Alzheimers.

His wife goes to him to the hospital.

She brings him champagne and cigarettes. As he lays down, she sings a song for him and he dies.

His widow said it was so “intense and warm…how can people be against it.”

Terry (who also suffers Alzheimers) says “my wife is not a fan of assisted dying and would rather not talk about it on camera.”

Terry visits Andrew Colgan, a 42-year old suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Andrew has tried to kill himself twice.

Once was with morphine tablets, which knocked himself out for 5 days. He then hires Dignitas.

He believes that this includes the right to a decision for one’s death.

70% of Dignitas’s members have chosen not to go ahead with assisted death.

“To know that you can go, gives you strength.”

Dignitas members first are screened to make sure they are of sound mental state. They are also instructed on how to drink the “poison”.

There are 2 things to drink (the first is to make the 2nd (the poison) more pallatable). You must drink it all at once or else it may not kill you.

If you’re a foreign member of Dignitas (with no home in Switzerland), you visit an apartment outside of Zurich where 2 Dignitas escorts guide you through the process.

People with Alzheimers (or other dementia), like Terry, need to tell a service like Dignitas much earlier than people with non-cognitive issues.

That is because Dignitas will not accept them if they are not of sound mind.

Terry asks Peter Smedley if Terry can join him on his visit to Dignitas to die.

Peter agrees. Peter drinks the first cup (what looks like a couple of ounces of clear liquid) at a dining room table.

He is then walked over to the couch with his wife where (after he twice more agrees he wants to die) he drinks the poison (which looks like about 2 ounces of clear liquid).

He eats a chocolate. Then says “I’m thirsty…water” (but is not allowed to have water) and then he falls asleep (he is snoring) and dies shortly after…in his wife’s arms.

Terry describes it as “A happy event…more or less in the arms of his wife…quite quietly so we’ll never know quite when he passed away.”

What’s striking is Pratchett’s approach. He’s curious, empathetic. He’s not just a storyteller; he’s part of the story.

Watch “Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die” for free on Vimeo at

2) How to Die in Oregon

“How to Die in Oregon,” directed by Peter Richardson in 2011, is an intensely emotional 107-minute documentary.

It dives into the heart of a tough topic: assisted dying, specifically in Oregon, the first U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted death.

This docisn’t just about the law; it’s about people. It follows real individuals navigating this final choice.

Richardson captures these moments with a sensitivity that’s both heartbreaking and enlightening.

One of the central figures is Cody Curtis, grappling with terminal liver cancer. Her journey, her decision-making process about ending her life under the state’s Death with Dignity Act, is the documentary’s backbone. It’s intimate, it’s real, and it’s incredibly human.

The film is a mosaic of emotions – fear, love, sadness, peace. It shows the human face of a controversial law.

For anyone interested in the ethics of end-of-life care, or just looking to understand a deeply human issue, this doc is solid.

You can watch How to Die in Oregon for free (with library card/school ID) on Kanopy (; or watch it with ads on Vudu and Tubi; or rent it on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV.

See all optioins here:

3) Louis Theroux: Altered States – Choosing Death

Louis Theroux’s “Altered States: Choosing Death,” released in 2018, dives deep. It’s about assisted dying in America, a topic as heavy as they come.

Theroux, he’s got this empathetic, gentle approach. He’s talking to people like Gus, battling cancer, and Lori, with a neurological disorder.

The doc’s set in California, a state with its own take on the matter.

Theroux navigates through these personal stories, the emotional tangles, the family dynamics.

He’s not just a fly on the wall; he’s right there, in the thick of it.

Ethics? Yeah, the documentary’s got loads of that.

It’s a jumble of perspectives – the sick, the families, the doctors. Theroux keeps it real, keeps it respectful.

No pushing, no prodding, just pure, unadulterated storytelling.

“Altered States: Choosing Death” is a window into one of life’s toughest choices.

Watch “it on:”Louis Theroux — Altered States: Choosing Death” on BBC at

4) The Suicide Tourist

“The Suicide Tourist” from Frontline, it’s a hard-hitter.

Released in 2007, this doc takes you into the world of assisted dying, but with a twist.

It’s about Craig Ewert, a man with ALS, making a life-ending decision.

Ewert, with his wife by his side, heads to Switzerland.

There, the assisted dying organization Dignitas, is his last resort.

The doc captures every moment, every emotion. It’s intimate, it’s real, and it’s raw.

Frontline’s approach is unflinching. They’re showing it all – the discussions, the goodbyes, the final moments.

It’s as much about Ewert’s journey as it is about the broader assisted dying debate.

For those pondering life’s final choices, “The Suicide Tourist” is a profound watch.

It’s not just a story about dying; it’s about choice, love, and dignity at life’s end.

Watch “The Suicide Touriist” for free at

5) The Suicide Plan

Frontline took on assisted suicide again in 2012, with a longer take than their Suicide Tourist five years earlier.

While “Suicide Tourist” focused on personal stories, “The Suicide Plan” takes a broader look at assisted suicide, particularly in the United States.

This doc explores the underground network that aids people in ending their lives, including the individuals seeking assistance and those providing it.

It delves into the moral and legal complexities surrounding assisted suicide, presenting multiple cases and viewpoints.

This includes examining the risks and legal battles faced by those involved in assisting suicides, as well as the emotional and ethical dilemmas that come with such decisions.

You meet those seeking help, and the ones offering it, often at great personal risk. It’s a world of moral and legal gray areas.

Watch it on PBS at

6) Right to Die

“Right to Die,” an HBO Documentaries/ Vice production, is an eye-opener.

Over 27 minutes, it delves into the right to die debate, a hot-button issue.

We start with the Netherlands, pioneers in euthanasia, and swing to the U.S., where laws about physician-assisted suicides are stricter…and opinions divided.

The film’s centerpiece? Stories like Aunt Sarah’s, planning her death in her home.

Then there’s Brittany Menard, a U.S. face for the movement, and Cristina Simmons, an ALS sufferer moving to Oregon for the right to die. Their stories are raw, real, touching.

Vice doesn’t shy away from the controversy. They show the gritty reality, the emotional farewells, the tough decisions.

It’s a mix of personal tales and legal battles.

In the U.S., we see the struggle for legal change, debates raging. The film captures the clash of ethics, law, and personal choice.

“Right to Die” ends with questions, not answers. It reflects a society grappling with end-of-life decisions.

For anyone curious about this complex issue, it’s a must-watch. HBO and Vice don’t mess around. They tend to nail their documentaries.

Watch Right to Die for free on YouTube at

7) Last Flight Home

“Last Flight Home,” let’s talk about it. It’s an emotional journey, an intimate documentary.

Directed by Ondi Timoner, it tells the story of Eli Timoner’s final days.

Eli, Ondi’s father, opts for medically assisted dying. The film captures his final moments with raw honesty.

We see family interactions, tender, heartbreaking. It’s not just about dying; it’s about living, about saying goodbye.

Timoner’s direction is sensitive, yet unflinching.

She brings us into her family’s world. It’s a personal story, yet universal in its themes of love, loss, and dignity.

“Last Flight Home” is a powerful look at end-of-life choices.

It’s about the right to die on one’s own terms.

For anyone interested in the complexities of life, death, and family dynamics, this is essential viewing.

It’s a doc that stays with you, long after the credits roll.

Watch” “Last Flight Home” on Paramount+ or rent it on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube et al. Options are here:

8) End Game

“End Game” on Netflix, it’s a heavy hitter.

Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, this 2018 doc dives into the toughest of waters – end-of-life care.

Though this doc is not specifically on assisted suicide, it covers palliative care and treating people with terminal illnesses.

And it takes place in the San Francisco, California area where there is (often) progressive thinking on problem solving.

We’re talking San Francisco General Hospital, UCSF Medical Center, real ground zero for life’s final chapter.

It’s a raw, unfiltered look at palliative care and the tough choices made in life’s final stages. The doc weaves personal stories with profound medical and ethical discussions.

Epstein and Friedman’s direction is intimate, respectful. They balance the emotional journeys of patients and families with the practical realities of end-of-life care.

It’s not just about dying; it’s about quality of life, dignity, and compassion.

“End Game” is a must-watch for those interested in medicine, ethics, or just the human experience.

It challenges viewers to think about mortality, medical intervention, and what it means to live well until the end.

Watch End Game on Netflix at

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac of Daily Doc