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Nitschke not interested in addressing problems of people at risk of suicide - 26 November 2002

Dr Philip Nitschke’s comments in the media today again reinforce the fact that he is more interested in promoting death than in addressing the very real concerns of suicidal people. Nitschke professed concern that Ms Lisette Nigot was suicidal, despite having no terminal illness. But he was not concerned enough to refuse to advise her on how to kill herself.

Spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Ms Mary Joseph, was commenting on news that Perth woman Lisette Nigot had recently committed suicide after contacting Dr Philip Nitschke for euthanasia advice.

“Dr Nitschke should be working with groups such as the National Advisory Council on Suicide Prevention to advise them on the factors that lead people to consider suicide so that these factors can be addressed”, Ms Joseph said. “Nitschke should be helping people to live better lives by making sure that factors that drive people to suicide are not allowed to continue to go on unaddressed.

“Ms Nigot evidently had concerns over whether she might die a difficult death in old age, stating in letters that ‘I am terminating my life now because I want to have control over my death’ and ‘I want to stop it before it gets bad’. These are very valid and real concerns that should have been explored in depth with palliative care experts so Ms Nigot could have been reassured and could have enjoyed many more years of her life.”

Dr Nitschke has a history of advocating making suicide methods available to anyone and everyone:

  • When interviewed last year, Dr Nitschke said that teenagers should have access to his proposed suicide pill (ABC Radio AM Program, 10 August 2001).
  • In August Dr Nitschke promoted a ‘suicide bag’, which is available to anyone who joins his organisation - EXIT Australia.
  • Earlier this year Dr Nitschke was a prominent commentator in the media for his patient Nancy Crick, who was found after her suicide to not 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:    26 November 2002

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