September 28, 2014
Australia’s Dr Death starts UK Suicide Club
By Stephen Adams for The Mail on Sunday
Australia’s Dr Death starts UK ‘suicide club’: Workshops and online guide will cause ‘endless tragedies’
Published: 08:15 AEST, 28 September 2014 | Updated: 08:15 AEST, 28 September 2014
Pro-euthanasia group Exit International was setup by Dr Philip Nitschke.
The group has 1,000 UK members and has now opened a London office.
Membership restricted to over-50s and younger with terminal illnesses
Founder: Dr Philip Nitschke believes it is a ‘fundamental right’ for anyone to take their own life.
A ‘suicide club’ that provides advice and equipment to help people kill themselves has been set up in Britain.
Exit International, which campaigns to legalise euthanasia, has opened a London office to ‘cope with demand’ after its UK membership hit 1,000.
The group, which charges members a fee to access online information and attend workshops to discuss ‘peaceful’ methods of suicide, has attracted fierce criticism in Australia, where it was originally set up.
Unlike other advocates of assisted dying, Exit does not campaign only on behalf of the terminally ill.
It also aims to help older people simply ‘tired of life’ kill themselves using drugs or gas, in what it terms ‘rational suicide’.
Its activities include:
- Advising members on how to source a lethal drug used to kill US Death Row prisoners;
- Selling test kits so members can check the purity and potency of this controlled Class B drug in their own homes;
- Providing instructions on how people can gas themselves using a ‘DIY’ kit;
- Giving tips on how those assisting a suicide might avoid prosecution.
However, opponents of euthanasia – and even some supporters – say Exit’s approach is ‘dangerous’, with one warning its spread here will lead to ‘endless tragedies’.
Exit has already been implicated in the death of Yorkshire grandmother Anne Veasey, who had multiple sclerosis.
The group’s Ireland director, Tom Curran, was interviewed by police over her death in 2012, but never charged.
Although assisting or encouraging suicide is illegal in Britain, the law has been tested by campaigners seeking the right to end their lives when they choose.
Next month a bill to allow doctors to help patients take their lives in certain circumstances is to be debated in the House of Lords.
Philip Nitschke, who believes it is a ‘fundamental right’ for anyone to take their lives when they want.
Exit UK’s ‘inaugural event’ is to be held next Saturday in London. It is free to attend for members, who pay around £60 a year, while non-members are required to pay a one-off fee of around £50.
The group was set up by Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, who believes it is a ‘fundamental right’ for anyone to take their lives when they want. Restricting access to suicide method information is ‘censorship’, he argues.
Exit claims to limit membership and information to those over 50, who have no history of depression or mental illness.
It only lets in younger people if they have a serious pressing reason, such as a terminal illness.
But The Mail on Sunday found no proof of age or clean mental health was required to access its e-handbook, a guide to suicide.
It was guarded by only ticking a terms and conditions box.
The T&Cs state ‘that you are aged over 50 years and / or seriously ill’ and ‘have never been diagnosed with a mental disorder’.
Dr Nitschke said yesterday the fact that a few depressed people could use Exit was outweighed by the ‘benefit’ it brought to others.
It ‘should not be used to stop people who have a legitimate need for this information’, he added.
But Tory Peer Lord Alton, who has campaigned against assisted suicide, said: ‘If you can end up with a lethal pill, through a simple tick-box method, that is going to lead to endless tragedies. It is downright irresponsible.’
Kevin Fitzpatrick, of the anti-euthanasia group Not Dead Yet, said: ‘This is a suicide club, in that you have to pay membership fees.
‘Nitschke is not only playing on people’s emotions, but he is profiting from them.’