Activism

Actor Liz Carr says it hurts to hear her younger self 'wanted to die'

The Silent Witness star reflects on her life journey to activism against assisted dying

Liz Carr

Image: © Linda Nylind / Guardian / eyevine

Liz Carr has been a vocal opponent of assisted dying for more than a decade. With signs that the tide could be turning on the subject, the actor and activist has reflected on how she came to terms with the life-changing disability she developed at the age of seven.

“From my appearance most people will think I was born disabled, but I wasn’t, so I understand what becoming disabled means,” she says in this week’s Big Issue, out now. Carr was disabled from age seven, owing to arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, and has used a wheelchair since she was 14.

The subject of Big Issue’s reader-favourite feature Letter to My Younger Self, Liz Carr shares how her mother recently found a “harrowing” diary entry which detailed how her younger self “wanted to die” when she was 12.

“During lockdown, my mum would ring most nights… She’d go through old diaries and call with the most harrowing bits. It would be, ‘What did you have for your tea? Did you know you wanted to die when you were 12?’ Now, I knew I was miserable but to say I’d rather be dead? It hurts me to hear that my younger self didn’t see a future.

“I would love to tell her you’ll fall in love, have mates, travel the world and do a job people can only dream of. She wouldn’t have believed any of it.”

Carr has created a documentary for the BBC, Better Off Dead?, which explores how changing legislation could affect vulnerable or disabled people.

“I was told all the time that I wouldn’t live to be old, and I believed it,” she says. “I thought I was going to die as a teenager. I thought I was going to die as a 20-year-old. Then I thought I would die by 30. So I’d love to tell my younger self that she won’t die young – because I’ve wasted a lot of my life worrying needlessly. And there’s a lot of things we do need to worry about.”

“I went on a course in a care home in Ross-on-Wye, and within three hours my life changed forever. I met a woman called Sue. She had everything I wanted: lived on her own, had a partner, worked, was funny. Sue took me under her wing.

“Before the course I’d think, I can’t get on the bus because I can’t walk and that’s my problem. They said, what if the buses were all accessible? And it was like a celestial moment. My life’s lightbulb moment. I don’t have to do everything on my own to be dignified and have a good life… That’s where activism started for me.”

To read Liz Carr’s full Letter to My Younger Self, buy this week’s Big Issue. You can find your local vendor here.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'We are here and we exist': Inside the neighbourhood offering sanctuary to queer Russians and Ukrainians
Pride

'We are here and we exist': Inside the neighbourhood offering sanctuary to queer Russians and Ukrainians

Feeling like change in the UK isn't possible? Let these 28 purposeful campaigns prove otherwise
Activism

Feeling like change in the UK isn't possible? Let these 28 purposeful campaigns prove otherwise

Back to Black actor Eddie Marsan: 'There aren't any no-go areas in Tower Hamlets'
London

Back to Black actor Eddie Marsan: 'There aren't any no-go areas in Tower Hamlets'

Grand National: Animal rights activists claim 'tweaks' to 'cruel' horse race don't go far enough
Animal rights

Grand National: Animal rights activists claim 'tweaks' to 'cruel' horse race don't go far enough

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know