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Nitschke suicide bag a dangerous stunt to promote suicide

Dr Philip Nitschke's suicide bag is just another dangerous stunt to promote suicide, said spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Mary Joseph. Dr Nitschke will launch the 'Australian EXIT Bag' in Brisbane today.

"Attempts at suicide are cries for help from desperate people", said Ms Joseph. "But if Philip Nitschke gets his way, these desperate people will not get the help they need. They will get a suicide bag to make sure they die.

"The bag is being used as a method of promoting membership in EXIT (Australia), a national euthanasia group, as only members can gain access to the bag. Dr Nitschke is director of EXIT.

"Earlier this month SANE Australia, a charity helping people with mental illness, released a report showing the suicide rate amongst mentally ill people had increased by 400% over the past 40 years. Many other marginalised groups also have members who are in danger of suicide. All of them would be able to obtain a suicide bag from Dr Nitschke's organisation for the price of a membership fee and the bag.

"Both the suicide bag and the proposed suicide pill being promoted by Dr Nitschke will guarantee that some depressed and suicidal people will find death rather than someone to help them overcome their problems", Ms Joseph said.

"Dr Nitschke has a history of advocating making suicide methods available to people from high risk groups. When interviewed by the ABC Radio AM Program on 10 August last year, Dr Nitschke said that teenagers should get access to his proposed suicide pill. 'I think it should be available to teenagers. What I'm saying is, that teenagers are likely to get access to it. I mean, I think if we accept the fact suicide is legal and at a certain stage you become an adult in this society, at that stage we also accept that you can suicide.'

"Earlier this year Dr Nitschke was a prominent commentator in the media for his patient Nancy Crick, who was found after her suicide not to be terminally ill.

"For the period where euthanasia was legal in the Northern Territory, four of the seven people who approached Dr Nitschke for a lethal injection were later found in a published article co-authored by Nitschke to have had symptoms of depression" (The Lancet, 3 October 1998).

Issued:    20 August 2002

Contact:    Mary Joseph, spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, telephone 02 6253 3100