Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Facebook blocks dying activist’s suicide live-stream

Alain Cocq says that he has lived in great pain for 34 years and that, after many operations, he now prefers to die

Alain Cocq wants to persuade French authorities to lift its ban on medically assisted suicide. AFP
Alain Cocq wants to persuade French authorities to lift its ban on medically assisted suicide. AFP

A campaigner for assisted suicide has been blocked from live-streaming his own death on Facebook even as French President Emmanuel Macron offered him comfort.

Chronically ill Alain Cocq, 57, was filmed taking what he called his last liquid meal and sending a message to the world before the live-stream was taken down.

Right-to-die cases have long been an emotive issue in France but Mr Cocq said he was “happy” at his fate, and ended his message with: “I say goodbye. Such is life.”

Mr Cocq is a former plumber who suffers from a long-term and incurable degenerative illness that causes his arteries to stick together. He cannot walk, and says that having lived in great pain for 34 years, he now prefers to die.

“I know the days ahead are going to be very difficult but I have taken my decision and I am serene.” Mr Cocq posted on Friday.

Alain Cocq, 57,  appealed to the French president for help. Reuters
Alain Cocq, 57,  appealed to the French president for help. Reuters

A day later, Facebook stepped in and Mr Cocq called on supporters to help.

“Facebook is blocking my video broadcast until September 8,” he said. “It is up to you now, so you can let them know what you think about their methods of restricting free speech. There will be a backup within 24 hours,” he said.

Mr Cocq, from Dijon, says he is expected to survive only a few more days, and had appealed for help from Mr Macron, who responded in a letter that he could not break the law.

“With emotion, I respect your approach because it speaks to the very intimate relationship that each of us builds with the end of our life and our death,” Mr Macron said in the letter.

“Because I am not above the law, I am not in a position to grant your request.”

A handwritten postscript from the president read: “With all my personal support and profound respect.”

Facebook has blocked his attempt to live-stream his last days. Reuters
Facebook has blocked his attempt to live-stream his last days. Reuters

Mr Cocq has stopped taking food, drink and medicine, and says he wants his death to be viewed to help persuade French authorities to lift a ban on medically assisted suicide.

“The path to my deliverance is starting and, believe me, I am happy about it. To those I won’t see again, I say goodbye. Such is life,” he wrote on Facebook.

Facebook has confirmed that it stopped Mr Cocq’s attempt to stream his death.

“Our hearts go out to Alain Cocq and those who are affected by this sad situation,” it said in a statement.

“While we respect his decision to draw attention to this complex and difficult issue, based on the guidance of experts, we have taken steps to keep Alain from broadcasting live, as we do not allow the depiction of suicide attempts.”

Updated: September 7, 2020 03:01 PM

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