Nitschke roadshow - it's a business after all

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

This article was published on the Hope Australia website on June 5, 2016

By Paul Russell 

The director of Hope Australia & Vice Chair of EPC - International

It seems that it isn't enough to provide people with information on how to get an illegal euthanasia drug sent to people from overseas; now Philip Nitschke and Exit want to provide tests so that people will know that what came in the mail will 'do the job'.

News reports about Exit's meeting in Canberra, Australia seem to suggest that this is something new. I suppose there has to be a hook here; a reason for the article. The reality is that Nitschke has been doing this now for sometime. If there's a twist it is that the article talks about learning to test the drug at home whereas previously Nitschke had testing apparatus in the back of a small van.

That van was also a delivery vehicle for 'Max Dog' nitrogen cylinders - another of Nitschke's semi-do-it-yourself suicide methods. He's also been working in Switzerland on a new mechanised death-delivery system he calls 'The Destiny Machine' which was also 'demonstrated' at his comedy shows in Edinburgh and most recently in Melbourne.

Suicide is clearly big business! I have always thought it odd that the media paints Nitschke as a 'euthanasia activist' when, in reality, his business model is built on selling suicide or 'self-deliverance' while legal euthanasia would likely curtail his sales figures somewhat by getting doctors and pharmacy involved. But somehow, when there's a sick or disabled person involved, or even someone who expects to become sick or disabled, it is suddenly not about suicide.

Link to the full article

Switzerland assisted suicides jump 34% in 2015

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Swissinfo reported that there were 782 assisted suicide deaths at the Exit suicide clinic in 2015 up from 583 assisted suicide deaths in 2014. In 2014, the total number of assisted suicide deaths in Switzerland, including deaths at Dignitas and the Eternal Spirit clinic, was around 836. 

The data indicates that there was a 34% increase in assisted suicide deaths in 2015. Combined with the 27% increase in assisted suicide deaths in 2014, deaths at the suicide clinic have increased by more than 70% in two years.

The article indicated that more women than men are dying by assisted suicide:

Of the deceased, 55% were women and 45% men, 
The average age of each person at the time of death was 77.4. The patients lived mainly in the cantons of Zurich, Bern, Aargau, St Gallen, Basel City and Basel Country

In May, 2014, a Swiss suicide clinic extended assisted suicide to healthy elderly people who are living with physical or psychological pain. This decision has led to an increase in deaths.

In August 2015 a healthy depressed British woman died by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85 year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.

In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland. His autopsy showed that he had a wrong diagnosis.

A 2014 Swiss study found that people who died at Swiss suicide clinics had no underlying illness in 16% of the cases.

In response to the increased assisted suicide deaths at the Swiss suicide clinics, the German Bundestag voted in November 2015 to prohibit the commercialization of assisted suicide.

HOPE Australia calls for a national inquiry into Exit

This article was published by HOPE Australia on October 26.

Paul Russel

Paul Russel

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, the Medical Board, moved today (26th Oct) to curtail the suicide advocacy of Dr Philip Nitschke in creating an unprecedented 25 restrictions upon his licence to practice medicine.

This action is the culmination of a dozen complaints the agency had received, dating back almost four years, including one by the author over three years ago about the promotion of hypoxic death methods utilizing nitrogen gas.

Originally, the 12 complaints were to have been aired in medical tribunal hearings scheduled for Darwin (NT) in November. Nitschke admitted, in various news reports today that he had ‘reached an agreement’ with the medical board in September this year to accept the boards restrictions rather than facing ‘four to six weeks of "costly" tribunal hearings.’ He may have been concerned for the cost after recently incurring significant legal fees in successfully appealing an earlier suspension.

However, it is perhaps more likely that his ‘agreement’ with the medical board was more about trying to avoid the airing of the substance of the 12 complaints in a public forum.

In essence, the board restrictions convey a very clear message that it is not proper for a medical professional to be involved in suicide advocacy or suicide coaching. We question whether anyone should be involved. But, in deference to the medical board, they can only make a judgement within their competency.

The only other action the board could have taken would have been to cancel Nitschke’s medical practice certificate outright. I’m glad they did not take this course. If they had, we would not now have the itemized list of 25 particular matters of concern to the board in the operation of Exit International.

Link to the full article

Medical Board Acts Against Dr Nitschke

The following is the media release from HOPE Australia from October 25, 2015


Medical Board decision on Philip Nitschke:

A sound decision to protect the vulnerable but more needs to be done.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

Paul Russell, Director of HOPE: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide welcomes the decision of the Medical Board, AHPRA to severely restrict Philip Nitschke’s medical licence in respect to his relationship to the work of Exit International.

AHPRA Media Release: Board imposes conditions on Dr Phillip Nitschke, ending legal process.

“The decision of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in response to a number of complaints about the activities of Exit and Philip Nitschke is most welcome.” said Mr Russell.

Mr Russell made a formal notification to AHPRA in respect to one aspect of the work of Exit and Philip Nitschke in August 2012.

“This is a vindication of our complaint and will hopefully provide some comfort to those who have lost loved ones to suicide by accessing Exit’s methods.’ said Mr Russell.

HOPE and Mr Russell say that more still needs to be done. “The medical board are implicitly stating that suicide advocacy is not an appropriate pursuit for a doctor. If not for a doctor, then we say: not for anyone.” said Mr Russell, adding a call for further investigations. “This murky world of suicide advocacy needs to be put to a stop for the sake of vulnerable people of all ages.”

HOPE is now calling for a full inquiry and investigation into Exit International and the entire suicide death industry.

HOPE: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide Inc. is a national network of people and organisations who work to oppose euthanasia & assisted suicide legislation.

HOPE is a member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International based in Canada. Paul Russell is vice chair of the international body.

For further comment contact: Paul Russell Executive Director, HOPE M: 0407 500 881

Family challenges $1.8 million Will bequest to euthanasia group, after their father died by suicide

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The family of a man, who died by suicide are challenging their father's Will that gave $1.8 million to Philip Nitschke and his euthanasia lobby group, Exit International.

According to the Herald Sun William O’Brien’s children Gai and Brett challenged the 89-year-old’s will after he took his own life last year. The Herald Sun reported Philip Nitschke, the founder of Exit International, as saying:

Mr O’Brien believed that every elderly person, terminally ill or not, should have that choice. 
the legal challenge was “very surprising” given Mr O’Brien felt that he had provided for his children “very adequately”, and the directions for his estate should be respected by the court.

According to the Herald Sun Mr O'Brien died in July 2014 even though he was reportedly in good health. The Herald Sun also reported that O'Brien left $5000 to each of his surviving children.

Dying With Dignity Canada received almost 24% of their income in 2014 from bequests.

Assisted suicide promotion has led to more youth suicide in Australia

Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Judith Taylor, the mother of Lucas

Judith Taylor, the mother of Lucas

Philip Nitschke has been promoting assisted suicide for many years. Recent statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that Nitschke's is promotion of suicide techniques has led to many younger people dying by suicide.

The Sydney Morning Herald featured the story of Lucas Taylor (26) who died in 2012, after receiving suicide assistance from Nitschke and his group.

Judith Taylor, the mother of Lucas, told the Morning Herald:

Twenty-six-year-old Lucas Taylor took his own life by taking Nembutal more than three years ago, but he still gets Exit International's email newsletter. 

Judith Taylor, the mother of Lucas.

After his death in 2012 his mother Judith went through his emails looking for answers and found he had been a paid up member of the organisation. 
the deaths among younger people were an "unintended consequence" of the voluntary euthanasia movement putting out information online on suicide methods.

Nembutal is a veterinary euthanasia drug. 

According the Sydney Morning Herald:

New data from the national coronial information system shows 120 people died by taking Nembutal .. between July 2000 and December 2012. 
The deaths included one person under the age of 20, 11 people in their 20s and 14 people in their 30s. 
Voluntary euthanasia campaigners say the actual number of Nembutal deaths is even higher, as many deaths are not reported to the coroner and people who use the drug to take their lives take steps to make it look like the death is of natural causes.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts contact Your Life Counts.

Nitschke is also fighting to keep his Australian medical license. There have been 12 complaints to the Australian Medical Board concerning Nitschke and his group Exit International.

Link to the full article

27% increase in assisted suicide at Swiss suicide clinic in 2014

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Pietro D'Amico

Pietro D'Amico

The Exit suicide clinic in Switzerland reported that there were 583 assisted suicide deaths in 2014, a 27% increase from the 459 deaths in 2013.

Exit claimed that the spike in numbers was due to a greater media interest in euthanasia, an ageing population and a rise in cases of dementia.

Last May, Exit extended assisted suicide to elderly healthy people who are living with physical or psychological pain. This decision would have led to an increase in deaths.

In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85 year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.

In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria in southern Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland after receiving a wrong diagnosis.

A 2014 Swiss study found that people who died at Swiss suicide clinics had no underlying illness in 16% of the cases.

It appears that euthanasia and assisted suicide are becoming normalized in countries where it is legal. Recent statistics indicate that euthanasia increased by 27% in 2013 in Belgium and 15% in 2013 in the Netherlands, while assisted suicide increased by 44% in 2014 in Oregon and 43% in 2013 in Washington State.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide appear to be socially contagious.