Whose Death Is It Anyway?

Watch film | 57 minutes

This video is for home-viewing only, for public performance or educational use please contact Films Media Group.

WHOSE DEATH IS IT ANYWAY? emphasizes the importance of personal involvement in decisions about one's care at the end of life.  Highlighting the types of treatment many people receive, it realistically explores the difficulties surrounding end-of-life decision making through five documentary segments that feature families sharing their own discussions and experiences.

End-of-life issues have recently come to the forefront of public debate. The battle over end-of life wishes raises many ethical and practical questions about patients' legal rights, family conflict about end-of-life decisions, and the importance of advance directives. Whose Death Is It Anyway? explores all of these issues through informed and emotional discussion from a variety of viewpoints, helping to clarify this confusing and difficult topic.

Whose Death Is It Anyway? features a studio audience, hosted by Dr. Nancy Snyderman, that includes people who have dealt with difficult end-of-life treatment issues—physicians, lawyers, nurses, social workers and members of the clergy.  Betty Rollin introduces profiles of real families in the midst of difficult decisions.  The program's goal is to increase and improve discussion among patients, families and health care providers and to help people ensure that their wishes are heard and honored.

Individuals may wish to use the video to initiate discussions among friends, colleagues and family members. Group leaders can show the entire video before starting a discussion or use each segment as a topic of discussion.

The Program Examines:

• Patients' Legal Rights

• Family Conflicts About End-of-Life Decisions

• Advance Directives

• Palliative (Comfort) Care

• Dying at Home, in Hospital, or with Hospice Care

Whose Death Is It Anyway? was produced by the Independent Production Fund in 1996.

Funded by


The Nathan Cummings Foundation


 The MerCOMM Galaxy Award

Best Video at the Association for Death Education and Counseling Video Film Festival


NOLO Estate Planning Software

US Living Will Registry

Promoting Excellence in End of Life Care


 In a twist on public television’s usual approach to medical and ethical issues, here is a studio audience filled not only with “experts,” but with laymen who had to make wrenching decisions about endstage care for their terminally ill loved ones. It is heartening to see a program devoted not to physician-assisted suicide, but to the more common life-and-death decisions so many of us have faced. — Wall Street Journal

TV that embraces death like this hour, despite the profound disagreements, can only be a healthy thing. — Los Angeles Times

It was a great program.  I thought the layout of it was very effective.  It was real people, not people acting.  That really made it hit home for me, and I’m sure it did for a lot of other people.  I’m ordering a copy for the ethics group at our hospital, because I feel they need to see it.

— Susan Cimino-Cary, Social Worker, Bassatt Hospital of Schoharie County, Cobleskill, NY

This is a very good, quality, public television program and an excellent introduction to the concept of personal directives. The video works in short portions, or as an entire hour-length balanced view of end-of-life care.

—Al-Noor Nathoo, The Bioethics Centre, Provincial Health Ethics Network, Alberta Canada

This one-hour video looks at the human side of end-of-life decision-making. These are five powerful documentary segments featuring real families sharing their own discussions and experiences. — Geriatric Social Work Initiative, New York, NY

Everyone who’s seen it has responded that the program was incredibly interesting.  We’ve had a great deal of buzz about it since it aired — everything from people calling up the station to buy copies to media inquires about the program. — Jim Bell, Program Director, KYBU, Utah

The program contained a lot of good information.  We ran it right after one of our local talk shows, and we got a great response to it.

— Kirby McClure, Programming Manager, KBDI, Colorado

This was a magnificent program.  I am very frustrated, after watching this superb program, that I can’t find another listing for it in my area.  I want to refer my friends to see it.  Thanks to you and to Dr. Synderman for producing such a wonderful program.  It should be required to be seen in every medical school in this country! — Karen Schoonmaker, Viewer, California

I just want to thank you so much for this program.  I’m going through this exact situation with my parents, and it’s been so hard to talk about.  Often, my father will get up and walk away from the table completely.  It’s a hard subject, and this program makes talking about it much easier.  My parents live 3 hours away in a retirement facility, and it’s often impossible to talk about end-of-life care over the phone.  But now, with this program, what was impossible is now more than possible. — Carlotta Santa Cruz, Viewer, San Jose

I thought it was a very good program.  I thought it would be a good thing to get my family together to sit down and watch.  It’s really an issue that needs to be talked about.  It was incredibly informative, and I’m glad I got the chance to see it. — Elaine Rauchfleish, Viewer, Michigan

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