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The Exit Internationalist

Philip Nitschke

Philip Nitschke PhD, MBBS, BSc (Hons) is the Founder & Director of Exit International, and co-author of the Peaceful Pill eHandbook – Essentials edition. He lives outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

In 1996, Philip became the first doctor in the world to administer a legal, lethal voluntary injection under the short-lived Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (NT).

Four of Philip Nitschke’s terminally ill patients used this law to end their suffering before the law was overturned in March 1997 by the Australian Parliament.

The overturning was possible because of a loophole in the Australian Constitution which allows the Federal Government to make laws for the country’s Territories (s 122).

The Euthanasia Laws Act (known as ‘the Kevin Andrews Bill’) made it illegal for the Northern Territory Government to make laws on Euthanasia.

With the world’s first law now gone, Philip was still approached by elderly and seriously ill people wanting help to die.

In response to this need, Philip Nitschke founded the Voluntary Euthanasia Research Foundation (now called Exit International) in early 1997.

Read more at Wikipedia

Philip Nitschke

Early Life & Background

Born in 1947 in rural South Australia, Philip studied physics at the University of Adelaide, completing a PhD at Flinders University in laser physics in 1972.

Instead of a career in the sciences, Philip went north to the Northern Territory to work with the Aboriginal land rights activist, Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji people at Wave Hill during the time of the walk-off.

After the hand-back of land by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Philip became a NT Parks & Wildlife ranger. 

A serious accident to his foot saw Philip return to university, graduating from Sydney University Medical School in 1988.

The rest is history …

Notable Publications

The Peaceful Pill eHandbook Essentials is the leading practical, DIY end of life choices manual.

Going to Switzerland: how to plan your final exit is the first book of its kind to advise on the Swiss assisted suicide process, as it applies to foreigners.

Damned If I Do (with Peter Corris) is Philip’s partial autobiography which was published by Melbourne University Press in 2013.

Killing Me Softly: Voluntary Euthanasia and the Road to the Peaceful Pill (with Fiona Stewart) was published by Penguin in 2005.

Philip Nitschke appeared on BBC’s Hard Talk in 2015 discussing why Suicide should be a Human Right.



Philip Nitschke and Henny Penny



Rainier Foundation Humanitarian Award, 1996

Northern Territorian of the Year, 1997

Australian Humanist of the Year, 1998

Charles Southwell Award (NZ Association of Rationalists & Humanists), 2001

Philip is a eight-time nominee for Australian of the Year (2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) and twice a state finalist (2005 & 2006).


Philip was the only torch bearer at the 2000 Sydney Olympics to ‘enjoy’ a police escort!