Pages tagged "Suicide Prevention"
Nitschke awards bad behaviour with encouragement to suicide.
Apr 22, 2017
by Paul Russell: Anyone who has ever sat on an awards committee knows well that there are standards to be met. Make the award too easy to attain or provide it to someone who has not met the criteria and the currency of the award is diminished. Raise the bar too high and no-one applies.At Exit International they must have ridiculously low standards. Exit boss and former medical doctor, Philip Nitschke recently awarded his so-called 'Peaceful Pill Prize' to an elderly Australian couple essentially because the woman concerned recently cried a patronising 'bullshit' at Professor Margaret Somerville on an Australian National current affairs program. Continue reading
Fix services; address inequality; eradicate ableism - then maybe we can talk!
Sep 22, 2016
By Paul Russell: There's a truth that those of us pushing against euthanasia and assisted suicide know well; that the more people understand the issue, the more concerns they find, the less they are convinced that we should go down that path.Sure, it is not always the case but, time and time again I have seen the truth of it in action. Continue reading
To a Paralympian who wants to die
Sep 15, 2016
By Kevin Yuill (article first appeared at Spiked On Line) Imagine if Usain Bolt, who has now officially retired from Olympic competition, told the world that, after he ticked a few more things off his 'bucket list', he intended to kill himself. How would the world respond? Probably with horror and disbelief.But this is precisely what 37-year-old Belgian Paralympian Marieke Vervoort announced to the world this week. She said that sport was her main reason for living, and spoke of the suffering she endures because of her chronic, degenerative - though not imminently fatal - condition. 'I fight fear, sadness, suffering, frustration', she said. Although she was 'still enjoying every little moment. When the moment comes when I have more bad days than good days, then I have my euthanasia papers.' Continue reading
Nitschke roadshow - it's a business after all
Apr 05, 2016
by Paul Russell: 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. Continue reading
Driving sales in the death market
Jan 18, 2016
In October 2015, an elderly couple from the Melbourne suburb of Brighton were found dead in their own home. Sad to say, the news story was the third couple or double suicide in the media within a few short weeks, the other two being in my home town of Adelaide.The Australian news media has a reasonably good reputation for sensibility and consideration when reporting on such matters as news. Unfortunately, at least one major Australian newspaper network seems to disregard those same sensibilities when the story is no longer news but, rather, an opportunity to push their editorial line in support of euthanasia and The 'Nitschke line' on so-called 'rational suicide'.Pat and Peter Shaw both committed suicide in their own home. Their three daughters, who knew the date, time and intention of their parents were away from the house at the time. It was common knowledge that Peter Shaw, at least, was an enthusiastic member of Exit International; the article suggesting that he killed himself in his shed using Exit-type equipment.Sadly, as alluded to earlier, these kinds of double suicide pacts are no longer the isolated cases that they once were. There have even been recorded instances of double euthanasia in Belgium where the partner who was not ill could not imagine living without the other. From The Age article, it seems that this Victorian case was different. Both had deteriorating health - but nether were terminal and, from the report, neither could be said to be suffering unbearably.In other words, neither would likely have qualified under the normal form of euthanasia and assisted suicide bills.The article expends a great deal of effort and column space in painting the picture of a vivacious and loving couple with stellar intellects and interests, including trekking, mountain climbing and hiking to exotic places. Even so, as a biography I can't imagine it would hold the same interest for The Age's readers if it were not for the suicide angle. In fact, I doubt that it would have been published at all. So, how does it serve the pro-euthanasia cause? Quite frankly, it doesn't. But, then again, if it is emotion and not logic nor ethics that we are relying upon, then perhaps I'm wrong.Short version folks: Sad as it is, and as much of a problem you or I or anyone else might have with what the Shaw's did, they did not, as far as we know, commit any offence. They killed themselves with apparent ease. Their children were sufficiently removed to be appropriately beyond suspicion of assisting. There was a proper investigation. Case closed.The three children told The Age that they respected their parents' choice and feel strongly that suicide can be rational. They also said that, 'their parents should not have had to risk prosecution to die together at the time of their choosing. Nor should they have had to be alone for the legal protection of their family.' The criminal code prohibition on assisting in suicide is not about protecting the family, it is about protecting vulnerable people from being coaxed or coerced to their suicide death. Sometimes it may be a protection from the family (though that is clearly not the case here).Daughter Kate belled the cat: "It shouldn't be so difficult for rational people to make this decision," she said. The whole reason for the article is to promote the idea that suicide can be rational; perhaps even desirable. A loving, smart and vivacious couple serving as poster folk to normalise what has for millennia been rightly stigmatised for the protection of fragile and vulnerable people: suicide - self-killing.Even if some people kill themselves supposedly rationally, The Age and the likes of Philip Nitschke have failed to answer the obvious objection: what about those who are not rational but whose mental state is such that they think that they are and who therefore find an imprimatur for their suicide in this argument? No suicide hotline at the end of the article can absolve responsibility.Moreover, I do not accept the inference that, because the Shaw's were intelligent and learned or because they left notes saying so, that their decision to suicide was, indeed, rational. The article provides some clues. They were clearly scared witless of deterioration, decrepitude and the loss of independence that those early aches, pains and memory problems of advancing age can sometimes presage. Peter Shaw in a 2007 letter to the editor of The Age said, "Our reason for suicide may be anticipation of pain and incompetence, but quite likely just a sense of a life accomplished and coming to a conclusion." The article screams the former which makes the idea of a 'finished life' seem more like an apologia.Shaw's letter went on: "We are not interested in palliative care, and strongly resent do-gooders placing obstacles in or way." The article qualified the 'do-gooders' as 'religious' people, 'with the superstitions of medieval inquisitors.' Cue Monty Python! What obstacles? The only real obstacles are the laws that prohibit the importation of lethal substances and the law prohibiting people from assisting; both make complete sense and both ae maintained by the states variously and not the churches.As if that were not enough, Fairfax published a follow up piece by the same author only day's later, surprise, surprise, based on a fulsome endorsement of rational suicide by none other than Nitschke himself.Thankfully, on this second occasion, a contrary voice is included in comments from Professor Ian Hickie, a psychiatrist and mental health campaigner, who said he thought it was tragic that people wanted to "check out" of life because of myths and negative stereotypes about ageing, pain relief, hospitals and how the health system treats elderly people. 'He said while some people may not have a mental illness when they end their own life, Exit International's approach to teaching people about suicide was reaching vulnerable people who could, with further assistance, live a longer, enjoyable life.'Professor Hickie, of the Brain and Mind Centre, said Australian authorities needed to work on policies and resources to promote healthy ageing with a focus on getting the right care and support to people so they do not feel like a burden and live as well as they can in their later years. He said people considering suicide or families discussing the issue should examine what is underpinning people's motivation. Is it fear of being a burden? Is it fear of a lack of care?' Continue reading
Making suicide easier - and no-one takes any notice
Dec 15, 2015
"The reality is, a portion of our population will suicide and I don't think we should make it so hard." Who said that? You're guessing; putting two and two together, noting the author of this article and, hand quickly in the air from the back of the class you yell: 'Nitschke!'And you are right. The quote comes from a Guardian newspaper article on the 12th of December - two days ago. And not a word from the suicide prevention agencies. Even those like Beyond Blue and the Black Dog Institute - fine organisations that spoke out against Nitschke in the Nigel Brayley case in 2014 - total silence. Continue reading
HOPE calls for a national inquiry into Exit
Oct 26, 2015
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. Continue reading
International Suicide Prevention Day: We must work to prevent all suicides.
Sep 07, 2015
We must work to prevent all suicides. Thursday the 10th of September is International Suicide Prevention day. This year the theme is 'Reaching Out and Saving Lives'.The following day, the 11th, and the UK House of Commons will debate the latest push for assisted suicide via the Rob Marris MP Private Member's Bill. Did no-one notice irony?Australia, like other western countries I suspect, has a glaring problem of inconsistency when it comes to suicide prevention. We get a helluva lot right and invest well in prevention lead by competent and committed agencies, but we have, thus far, failed to deal with the 'elephant in the room' that is euthanasia and assisted suicide.By ignoring the reality that suicide generally understood is intrinsically related to euthanasia and assisted suicide by the common desire for death, we send a decidedly mixed message to the community at large - and especially to vulnerable people - that whether or not a life is worth saving is dependent on factors other than the intrinsic and inviolable value of life itself. That such subjective factors comprise a view or views about others that is in essence discriminatory seems to have been largely ignored.So, what are these subjective factors that factors in the difference in attitude between the putative person on the ledge and someone facing a difficult prognosis?Both are facing a crisis. Both will have 'rationalised' their circumstances to the point where they see no other option. Continue reading
Suicide prevention must include preventing all suicides.
Jul 14, 2015
There seems to me to be a cognitive dissonance in the suicide prevention arena that seems to set aside concern about suicides that are related to advocacy networks such as Exit International. This happens at a number of levels and in a number of ways; some perhaps understandable but none excusable. Australia has one of the highest incidences of youth suicide in the western world. It makes good sense to focus resources in this critical area of prevention. But there's something missing in the public discussion that should have become crystal clear from recent media coverage in the Fairfax press.Journalist Craig Butt reports on suicide deaths using Nembutal and highlights its use by young people: Continue reading
She was already 'at death's door' - so that makes it alright then?
Feb 23, 2015
By Paul Russell, Director, HOPE: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide. There's a subtle hypocrisy in our society in regards to suicide that also plays out in cases of wrongful death and euthanasia & assisted suicide arguments.If a young person tragically dies by suicide we are rightly upset. We feel immense compassion for the young person and for their grieving families. It is entirely natural to observe that part of the tragedy is that he or she had 'their whole lives ahead of them'. And so, in our western society where youth suicide is tragically far too common, we invest significant time, effort and finances in suicide prevention - and rightly so.But when our media reports a suicide of an older person, they and we often see it differently. Often, but not always, the story talks about someone who has had a wonderful life and simply wants to be gone. Reasons vary from the fear of deterioration or a difficult prognosis to simply not wanting to grow old. Wrapped up like a sugar-coated yet bitter pill, we're encouraged to consider that such a suicide is understandable, perhaps even okay. It is not. We are encouraged to celebrate his or her 'courage to choose' without thought for the reality that to make such a suggestion at the suicide death of a young person would be deemed rightly as cruel and invariably wrong.I cannot help but think that the easy acceptance of suicide amongst the elderly is somehow subtly tied up in our own fears about what we will face ourselves. The lack of suicide prevention campaigns aimed at our elders tends to support this thinking and the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide as being for the aged and infirmed further compromises suicide prevention initiatives.While it is again entirely natural to feel compassion for the older person's circumstances we cannot apply the 'whole life ahead of them' commentary because it is less of a reality. That said person may yet have had many years to live is less clear than for our putative young person. Does the fact that we cannot find easily a point of reflection upon what is nevertheless a tragedy mean that we should not be just as concerned as we are at a younger person's suicide? Should it mean that we fail to ask the hard and sometimes unanswerable questions?Should it mean that we should simply wrap the whole story up in a nice neat bow of: 'Oh! Well...' and move on? How many of our elderly feel this kind of pressure and for how many are these feelings exacerbated by poor care, loneliness or bereavement? Are the pressing concerns that drove them to suicide any less real to them than for the young person? We can and should want to say to the depressed teenager that there are other solutions and we should say the same to the elderly person.So, why are we not expending just as much effort is suicide prevention for the elderly as we do for the young? Last year, following an ABC interview about the death of Perth man Nigel Brayley using an Exit suicide method, Exit supremo, Philip Nitschke seemed to want to 'rationalise' Brayley's death away because of an investigation possibly implicating him (Brayley) in the deaths of his two wives. Then we had the on-again, off-again proposed euthanasia death in Belgium of a murder-rapist which seemed ultimately to have been put off due to the negative publicity linking the euthanasia death, rightly or wrongly, to something like the re-introduction of a death penalty.Thoughts about these cases will have naturally included an assessment of the (possible) wrongdoing. Some would conclude that their deaths would mean these men avoided the consequences of their crimes; others might add a note of good riddance. But at the heart of both stories were deeply troubled individuals who needed help and not encouragement towards their death, regardless of what they may have done.In all of this we can too easily adopt the subtle position that attributes more value to some lives and, therefore less value to others.Take for example a court case reported today in the Sydney Press of a nurse on trial for manslaughter in the wrongful death of a patient through what the prosecution claims is 'gross criminal negligence'. Her defence, as the article headline points out, seems to be proposing that the deceased woman was 'at death's door' as if to say that the death was of less consequence than it might have been for someone else. Some of the evidence will consider whether or not the patient was indeed dying, but to allow this to diminish the actions of the nurse, which are not in dispute, would be to diminish the value of the life of the patient. Sentencing is another matter where appropriate mercy may temper justice, but to reduce the charge on such a basis would be to diminish the worth of a life. The trial continues. I am sceptical about the outcome. It is this morphing of the equal and absolute value of every human life into something entirely subjective, based on how we feel about the sick, the elderly, and the disabled and our fears about the possibility of joining their ranks, that is itself on trial in the euthanasia & assisted suicide debate. Yes, the context of each individual's story is important and just so the ultimate choices they make. But even though the public face of the various euthanasia campaigns is most often about individuals in difficult circumstances, changing the law is not about them; it's about us - all of us. To make a change to the law can be about 'the one' when the change is about offering better protection for everyone based upon the one tragic example. But euthanasia law is not like that; it attempts to extrapolate the circumstances of 'the one' persons choice - an entirely individual and totally subjective matter - and tries to foist it upon everyone."But it's voluntary euthanasia! No-one will be forced into it," we hear repeatedly. This misses the point entirely: in a world where we already struggle with the concept of the equal and inalienable value of each and every human life we cannot expect a positive law allowing for exceptions to the criminal code (that enshrines, incidentally, the equal protection of life) to do anything else but continue to erode already weakened standards.If this article causes you any difficulty at all, talk to someone. Help is at hand.Lifeline: 13 11 14Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 Continue reading