1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Brittany Maynard ends life

November 3, 2014

The 29-year-old death-with-dignity activist Brittany Maynard has taken her own life. She gained international media attention after sharing a video professing her right to die on her terms after suffering from cancer.

Brittany Maynard
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/Maynard Family

Brittany Maynard ended her own life on Saturday, surrounded by her family at home in Portland, Oregon, a spokeswoman for the assisted suicide group Compassion & Choices confirmed late on Sunday.

Maynard, diagnosed at the beginning of 2014 with an aggressive form of brain cancer, gained international media attention after a video in which she explained why she had chosen to take her own life at age 29 went viral. Maynard, who moved from California to Oregon to take advantage of the state's Death With Dignity Act, said she had chosen to end her life before she lost her ability to function.

Three months after her diagnoisis, doctors gave her just six months to live. Shortly after her diagnosis, she moved with her family to Oregon, one of five US states that allows physician-assisted suicide. Since December 31, 2013, more than 750 people in Oregon have used the law to die, which was first approved by voters 20 years ago and then reaffirmed with 60 percent of the vote in 1997.

Her public announcement, which has been viewed more than 9.5 million times, reignited public debate about assisted suicide around the world.

'The world is a beautiful place'

In a final Facebook post, Maynard wrote: "Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me ... but would have taken so much more.

"The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type. Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!"

Before ending her life, Maynard had made it her mission to complete a "bucket list" and last month visited the Grand Canyon with her husband, Dan Diaz.

International debate

Following her death, many of Maynard's supporters posted messages on the social networking site Twitter.

Others, however, opposed Maynard's "right to die" campaign, claiming that there was "no dignity" in her choice.

During Maynard's time in the media, assisted suicide also came under fire from several religious groups. In light of Maynard's death, Janet Morana, the executive director of the group Priests for Life, said: "We are saddened by the fact that this young woman gave up hope, and now our concern is for other people with terminal illnesses who may contemplate following her example. Our prayer is that these people will find the courage to live every day to the fullest until God calls them home."

Compassion & Choices spokesman Sean Crowley told Portland's The Oregonian daily, however, that Maynard was teaching the world about what his organization terms "death with dignity."

ksb/mkg (AP, AFP, dpa)