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Friday 16 November 2018

'Doctor Death' to stage more suicide seminars

Dr Philip Nitschke, left wearing scarf, from the Australian voluntary euthanasia group Exit International, addressing the meeting in Seomra Spraoi, Dublin
Dr Philip Nitschke, left wearing scarf, from the Australian voluntary euthanasia group Exit International, addressing the meeting in Seomra Spraoi, Dublin

Colin Gleeson

A doctor who held a workshop advising people on how to end their own lives in Dublin yesterday said he would return to hold more meetings before the end of the year even though his venue for the seminar was cancelled several times.

The main event, which was free and aimed at people over 50 and those with serious illnesses, was organised by Australian group Exit International.

The euthanasia advocate dubbed 'Doctor Death' held his workshop at Seomra Spraoi, an autonomous social centre in the capital, where people were advised on ways to take their own lives. During a presentation, Dr Philip Nitschke, who runs Exit International, showed videos and images detailing the various techniques to best carry out the act.

There was no screening of persons entering the meeting, and in order to gain access to the practical part of the meeting, Dr Nitschke said you must be over 50 or have some "special requirement".


Dr Nitschke said during the meeting that the information was designed to "empower" people. He showed a video detailing various means of people taking their own lives, including using a plastic bag. He also showed a video of a machine that allows people to attempt suicide by pushing a button to inject drugs.

After the public meeting, there was a closed-door session where people were invited to stay on in order to get concrete information as to how to carry out the acts. People had to sign a disclaimer and sign up to the organisation in order to gain access. The media were told they could not observe this part of the meeting, and a curtain was erected across the windows of the room.

James King (71), from Ashtown, Co Meath, was at the meeting attended by about 40 people, and said he wanted to take his own life once he became "incapacitated".

"I don't want to be a burden on anyone, especially myself. I think everyone should have the right to decide when they've had enough of this life and I don't think any organisation should have any say over that.

"Human beings live for 1,000 months. Most of mine are gone. I only have a few left and I'm going to enjoy them. I'm not going to worry because I've no fear of death. Like anything else, it's part of nature."

Asked about whether people who come to the meetings are advised to go for counselling, Dr Nitschke said: "We're talking about well people so why would I tell them to get counselling."

On the possibility of people suffering from depression attending the meetings, he said: "We encourage people to know exactly what they're doing. It's possible that there will be someone who needs psychiatric help in the audience.

"Just because that could happen, I don't think it should be a justification for closing the whole operation down. It occasionally happens that we have someone in the group and it becomes very clear that they shouldn't be there and we ask them to leave."

When Dr Nitschke was asked how many of yesterday's attendees might take his advice further, he said that when people "get these strategies in place" they stop worrying and live "longer and happier" lives.

Irish Independent

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