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Tags: stephen hawking | assisted suicide | ALS | wheelchair | talk

Stephen Hawking: I Would Consider Assisted Suicide

Stephen Hawking: I Would Consider Assisted Suicide
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. (Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 03 June 2015 02:26 PM

Physicist Stephen Hawking said he would consider assisted suicide to end his life during a BBC interview slated to air June 15.

According to the Guardian, Hawking said it wouldn't just be acute pain that would drive him to want to kill himself.

"To keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity," the 73-year-old Hawking said. He has suffered from a slow-progressing form of ALS since he was 21.

"I would consider assisted suicide only if I were in great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me."

Last year, Hawking told the BBC he tried to kill himself by not breathing following an operation that put a breathing tube into his neck in the mid-1980s.

"I briefly tried to commit suicide by not breathing. However, the reflex to breathe was too strong," said Hawking, who has been wheelchair-bound for decades.

In the latest interview, Hawking said people who help their loved ones wanting to die should not have to face prosecution.

Hawking also told the BBC he gets frustrated with his inability to speak with his own voice. With most of his body paralyzed, he now communicates by flexing a muscle in his cheek and using a computer, which then translates words into a voice.

"At times I get very lonely because people are afraid to talk to me or don't wait for me to write a response," he said. "I'm shy and tired at times. I find it difficult to talk to people I don't know."

In December, Hawking received new software that helps him communicate faster and do things like surf the Internet and check his email easier.

"With the improvements made I am now able to write much faster and it means I can continue to give lectures, write papers and books, and meet with my family and friends more easily," Hawking said.

"This new system is life-changing for me and I hope it will serve me well for the next 20 years."

In the preface for his latest book, Hawking warned of the dangers posed by the Higgs boson, also known as the "God particle."

"The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100bn gigaelectronvolts (GeV)," Hawking wrote. "This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time, and we wouldn’t see it coming."

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Physicist Stephen Hawking said he would consider assisted suicide to end his life during a BBC interview slated to air June 15.According to the Guardian, Hawking said it wouldn't just be acute pain that would drive him to want to kill himself.
stephen hawking, assisted suicide, ALS, wheelchair, talk
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2015-26-03
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 02:26 PM
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