Man takes campaign to die to Twitter

Tony Nicklinson, 58, is seeking to make legal history by challenging the Government over the right to die. Photo / Twitter
Tony Nicklinson, 58, is seeking to make legal history by challenging the Government over the right to die. Photo / Twitter

A paralysed man who goes to court tomorrow to win the right to die is at the centre of an extraordinary Twitter campaign to get him to change his mind.

Days after Tony Nicklinson - who can communicate only by moving his eyelids - posted his first tweet, strangers from around the world have begun bombarding him with pro-life messages.

Tweets to Mr Nicklinson, which can be seen publicly, state 'God loves you' and try to persuade him to 'hang in there'. One urges him that he must change his mind, if not for himself, 'for your children'.

Mr Nicklinson, 58, is seeking to make legal history by challenging the Government over the right to die. He has suffered from locked-in syndrome since a stroke on a business trip in Athens in 2005.

While his mind was unaffected, his condition has meant he has spent most of the past seven years alone in his room and unable to communicate with family and friends.

In a landmark case, he and his family are due to go to the High Court to argue that a doctor should lawfully be allowed to end his life.

Mr Nicklinson began using social networking site Twitter on Wednesday. His first message read: 'Hello world. I am Tony Nicklinson, I have locked-in syndrome and this is my first ever tweet.'

It is thought that he is the first person in the world to tweet with his eyelids, using a computer system which tracks his blinks to translate his thoughts into written words.

His posts have provided a fascinating insight into the life of someone trapped inside their own body. In one, he wrote: 'Just had an old school friend call in for a chat with us but mostly Jane [his wife] because she can speak. Still, it was nice to see him.'

He amassed almost 14,000 followers in just five days - but while some have supported his fight, many who believe he should not be allowed to ask a doctor to kill him have used the site to try convince him to change his mind.

One user, writing under the name @llanguages, wrote: 'Hi Tony, I will pray that you will reconsider as every life is a celebration. If not for yourself, do it for your children.'
Another added: 'Everything happens for a reason. Please Tony, fight to live.'

One Twitter user from the US has started sending him links to websites for charities which offer physical therapy to help those suffering from paralysis.

Another wrote: 'You hang in there and do what's right', while many messages mentioned the will of God.

Sheila Marie King wrote: 'God has a plan and a purpose why these [sic] happens in your life. Be a good example and an INSPIRATION to everyone.'

In response to the more supportive messages received by her father, Mr Nicklinson's daughter Beth wrote on the site: 'Loving how much support my dad @TonyNicklinson is getting. HIS choice, HIS life, HIS rights.'

At the High Court tomorrow, lawyers for Mr Nicklinson will argue that it is necessary to allow a doctor to kill him because forcing him to stay alive would be worse.
Mr Nicklinson is too severely disabled to take his own life.

Among those who support the legal battle is neurologist Dr Stelios Doris, who saved Mr Nicklinson's life after he had a stroke.

On Channel 4 Dispatches, programme about Mr Nicklinson's case , which will air tonight, Dr Doris said: 'Death is more normal than to stay alive in this condition. So when I was informed that he was still alive I was surprised and sad also. I wouldn't like for even for my worst enemy to stay alive in this condition for so many years.'

Earlier this year, an independent commission on assisted dying concluded for the first time that certain people should be helped to die. But this only applies to those who are terminally ill and are able to take the final action to end their lives themselves - which excludes Mr Nicklinson.

Some campaigners have objected to the way Mr Nicklinson has been bombarded with outspoken messages on Twitter.

A spokesman for campaign group Dignity in Dying, which does not entirely support Mr Nicklinson's case, said they hoped 'people will be respectful of Mr Nicklinson on Twitter regardless of whether they agree with him or not'.

- THE DAILY MAIL

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