Thursday, 3 July 2014

No barriers to access to suicide methods at Exit

The Australian ABC TV network is running a story about two men who separately suicided using Exit International's methods. Both were in contact with Exit. Neither were terminally ill. Neither had reached Exit's arbitrary age of 50 years.

This confirms what Dr Nitschke has always maintained, that suicide should be available to any adult. This formula usually adds: 'of sound mind'. But these two cases burst the bubble of that myth wide open.

Nigel Brayley was 45 years old and not only had met Dr Nitschke in Perth but had also corresponded with him by email. ABC reporter Caitlin Gribbin confronted Nitschke with the text of some of these emails where Brayley confirmed that he was not 50 years of age, not terminally ill but planned to suicide within two weeks.

Ms Gribbin confronted Nitschke and asked: "Did you try to stop him? Did you communicate with him that perhaps he should seek some sort of counselling?"

Nitschke replied: "No. I - look - it's not - if a person comes along and says to me that they've made a rational decision to end their life in two weeks, I don't go along and say, "Oh, have you made a rational decision? Do you think you better think about it? Why don't you have a counsellor come along and talk to you?" We don't do that."

Nitschke went on to confuse capacity to make decisions and what he calls 'rational suicide'. He claimed that, "If a person is so depressed that they are - lost capacity, they can't articulate anything. The fact that he was so insightful in his decision to make this choice indicates to me that he was indeed a person had not lost capacity. I'm not saying he wasn't depressed, but was he so depressed that should constrain him? Should we have certified him? Should we have put him into a psychiatric institution? Should we have restricted him in some way? Of course not. He was not at that level of depression. And people like that should not have their freedom curtailed. So I would object to that idea that you're saying he's depressed, therefore we shouldn't talk to him."

How on earth can Nitschke or anyone else assess capacity and rationality from an email? It is simply not true to suggest that someone who appears rational cannot also be deeply depressed and suicidal. The fact that Mr Brayley was clearly suicidal is a rather large clue! Suicidal people can and do often appear to be decidedly rational; having made the macabre decision, defending it in an email would not be difficult.

Consider also how after a suicide, friends and family will sometimes be heard to say that they never saw any problem or signs of difficulty. This is particularly so with youth suicide.

Which brings me to the second story of a 25 year old man: Joe Waterman. Joe masqueraded on Nitschke's Exit site as being 50 or more years of age. He seems to have been suffering a depressive illness. To say he masqueraded is probably over stating it. According to the news report, he ticked a check box at the bottom of a registration page. What person, as his mother observes, who wanted Exit's services would not think about a simple check-box click to get what they so desperately wanted?

This observation alone destroys forever this thin veneer of responsibility that Exit tries to cultivate.

In calling Mr Waterman 'a liar' Nitschke was at least being accurate as his parents agreed. But surely, in his state of mind, such a lie was a rational decision. Nitschke then observes that, "the book is not made available people unless they're 50 years of age or more unless there's special circumstances. So, I guess if he wants to tell us those lies and accesses the book and then misuses it, I guess we can't always be able to protect against that. It's a tragedy."

So, one of the deaths is a rational suicide but the other, of a much younger man, who displayed similarly rational behaviour is a tragedy. Nitschke is tying himself in knots here.

But, ever the salesman, he either doesn't care or doesn't get it. This tweet says it all:

But he cannot hide behind a check-box just as he can't hide behind his own untested claim that one of these men at least was supposedly rational. 

The suicide promotion and suicide industry of which Exit is a major player needs to feel the heat of the public gaze. That's why I have, today, called of a national inquiry into the operation of Exit International and other pro-euthanasia groups that conduct similar clandestine advocacy.

If we ever learn to accept that suicide is a rational response to human difficulty we will have betrayed the many years of effective suicide prevention in this country just as we will have abandoned those in desperate need and the families left behind in a trail of unanswered questions, tragedy and unresolved misery.

This has to stop!

For a transcript of the ABC interview, click here.

Need help after reading this article? Don't call Exit!

Contact: Beyond Blue on 1800 224 636 or Life Line on 13 11 14

MEDIA RELEASE - 3rd July 2014
Clandestine suicide promotion must stop!

HOPE director calls for national inquiry into suicide industry

The media stories of the deaths of a 45 year old and a 25 year old man using Exit International suicide methods has left two families bereft and in need of an explanation. 

“There are natural demands for justice for the families of Joe Waterman and Nigel Brayley. Whilst Dr NItschke and euthanasia advocates generally talk about relieving suffering, these two unnecessary deaths have created suffering; something Dr Nitschke seems not to care about,” says HOPE Director, Paul Russell.

“We expect medical professionals to care, not to show a callous indifference to both the depressed person and their family and friends.

“Nitschke would have us believe that suicide can be an acceptable response to life’s difficulties and challenges,” says Russell. “This makes a mockery of suicide prevention and may, in fact, also prompt others to follow this disastrous path. As a society we must maintain a strong distain for suicide as an answer to problems.”

Mr Russell is calling for a national inquiry into the operation of Exit International and other pro-euthanasia groups who deal in clandestine advice. “These are surely not the only families who are part of the trail of misery created by Exit and other advocacy groups. It’s time the Australian public knew the full truth.”

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 founding member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International based in Canada. Paul Russell is vice chair of the international body.
ENDS For further comment contact: Paul Russell Executive Director, HOPE M: 0407 500 881


  1. Blaming Nitschke for suicide is like blaming the weatherman for the weather. We live in a world in which lying and cheating are heavily rewarded. Where a worthless talent like hitting a ball in a certain way can earn you adulation plus millions. Where the way you look is more important than what you are inside. A world in which the people we elect to rule us, end up stealing from us. But the same people will send us to prison if we try to get some of it back. A world in which you can’t discipline your child because it is against the law. A world in which telling someone what you think of them can earn you a prison sentence or financial penalty even if what you said about them is true. A world in which one gender often gets more than the other. And where some races are favoured over others. We also live in a fractious and unpredictable world. Sure, we discover new things every day. But at the end of every day we seem to know less than the day before. Some people say we should believe in a creator and a life after death. But which of the thousands of creators on offer, and whose version of the life after death? Others say ignore faith and follow evidence-based science. But whose evidence and whose conclusions about the evidence? No wonder people are confused, and depressed.
    The result is that we can only all agree on one deity. The dollar. The more dollars you accumulate the more godlike you become. And the opposite is true: the fewer dollars you have the less worthy you are. People get depressed about this too.
    Giving someone a bottle of pills and a counsellor’s pep talk might help them for a while. But in the long run the angst will come back.
    All Nitschke is saying is, yes you want to die, and who can blame you? I am not here to tell you that you are wrong. You are an adult, and you have made a decision. If self annihilation is your decision, I respect it. And my job is to show you how to do it without stuffing it up because then you will be worse off. I will show you a painless way to die, a way that works.

    1. Nitschke makes a living out of other people's confusion and depression. He doesn't offer his advice for free. That's a depressing thought isn't it? That we can't go to the doctor for help when we need it. If that's your view of the doctor's job then no wonder you feel so depressed. I would challenge Nitschke's idea of painless too. His science hasn't been peer reviewed. Basically he's selling a scam. All those membership fees and sales of his banned book go into making up more scientific hogwash about so-called peaceful ways to die. Bring on an inquiry into Exit International. Let's find out how many depressed people kill themselves with Exit's assistance.

  2. Well Nic, perhaps we need to know how much money Nitschke makes selling his godlike wisdom to the depressed and confused? As a medical doctor I fail to see how it can be his job to show people how to die without first finding out if they can be cured. As to the so-called painless way to die, is it painless to die with strangers present and the company of medical ghoul who just wants to make money out of your suffering? Bring on the inquiry into Exit International!

  3. Yes Paul, let's have an inquiry and waste more taxpayer's funds. Nitschke has a lot of support in the community. He offers purely practical help to people who want purely practical help. If they don't want his kind of help there are organisations that offer counselling and advice. Lifeline and Beyond Blue are two of them. People like yourself see Nitschke's role as being like that of those organisations. That is not correct. If I want my house demolished, I will ring a demolition firm not an architect-builder. You are confusing the two.

  4. Nic, if that was true - then why the uproar on the medical and suicide prevention community. I admire your trenchant defence of what you believe, but this is essentially indefensible.