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DIY suicide pill risks the lives of troubled people - 11 June 2004

Producing a DIY suicide pill is grossly irresponsible and would put suicidal people at risk, said spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Mary Joseph. Philip Nitschke announced in today’s press (The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald) that he had formulated a do-it-yourself suicide pill, which could be made from readily available ingredients.

"You cannot blithely announce that you have developed a new way for people to commit suicide, available to anyone who joins your organisation, and not be held publicly accountable for putting suicidal people in danger", Ms Joseph said.

"Nitschke’s disregard for people’s lives shows a lack of compassion that is staggering. Suicidal people need help – not a recipe on how to end their lives.

"For the price of an Exit Australia membership fee, Dr Nitschke is willing to provide the recipe for this lethal cocktail to everyone and anyone – without any knowledge of their background or problems. The only help Nitschke will give someone in this situation is information on how to commit suicide – not help to overcome the problems they face.

"Nitschke is on the record saying 'anyone who wants [his suicide pill], including the depressed, the elderly bereaved, the troubled teen' should be allowed to buy it in the supermarket. (National Review, 5 June 2001).

"In 2001 Nitschke said that he chose to restrict himself to helping the group of ‘… terminally ill adults who are articulate, lucid and not suffering from clinically treatable depression’. Now he has abandoned even those meagre standards and is willing to provide advice on death to anyone, terminally ill or otherwise.

"In November 1997 Dr Nitschke said that he and a group of doctors were close to perfecting a do-it-yourself suicide pill. Nitschke has re-announced the pill a number of times since then in February 1998, June 1998, July 1998, May 1999, August 1999, August 2001, February 2002 and now. Let’s hope this latest announcement is just another grab at publicity rather than something which will increase the suicide rate."

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