Actress Liz Carr says it hurts to hear her younger self say ‘I’d rather be dead’

Liz Carr said it is painful to think her younger self “didn’t see a future” after a life-changing disability diagnosis.

The actress and disability rights campaigner is fronting a new BBC documentary titled Better off Dead? airing on Tuesday, which explores the legalisation of assisted dying and its potential effect on vulnerable or disabled people.

Laws in the UK currently prevent people from asking for medical help to die and Carr has been a vocal opponent of assisted dying for more than a decade.

Assisted Dying Bill
Actress and disability rights activist, Liz Carr outside the Houses of Parliament in London as MPs debate and vote on the Assisted Dying Bill (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Carr suffers from rare genetic condition arthrogryposis multiplex congenital, a condition that affects the joints and muscles, and has been a wheelchair user after falling ill aged seven.

“From my appearance most people will think I was born disabled, but I wasn’t, so I understand what becoming disabled means,” Carr told the Big Issue.

In the “Letter To My Younger Self” section of the magazine, Carr explained how her mother recently found a diary entry which detailed how her younger self “wanted to die” when she was aged 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?’

“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.”

The Witcher season 3 UK premiere – London
Liz Carr attending the UK premiere of The Witcher season three in London (Ian West/PA)

The 52-year-old actress is known for playing forensic examiner Clarissa Mullery in BBC crime drama Silent Witness.

She also joined season two of dark fantasy Netflix series The Witcher starring Superman actor Henry Cavill, as well as BBC NHS comedy drama This Is Going To Hurt and Amazon supernatural series Good Omens alongside David Tennant and Michael Sheen.

Carr won a gong at the 2022 Olivier awards for her supporting role as polio survivor and physician Dr Emma Brookner in The Normal Heart, a play about the HIV/Aids epidemic in the 1980s.

“I was told all the time that I wouldn’t live to be old, and I believed it,” she said.

“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.”

Olivier Theatre Awards 2022 – London
Liz Carr in the press room after winning the best actress in a supporting role award for The Normal Heart at the Laurence Olivier Awards in 2022 (Ian West/PA)

Carr said her life “changed forever” when she met a woman named Sue during a care home course in Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire.

“She had everything I wanted: lived on her own, had a partner, worked, was funny. Sue took me under her wing,” Carr said.

“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.”

Read Carr’s full “Letter To My Younger Self” in this week’s Big Issue, out now. Find your local vendor to buy a copy, or subscribe online, at