Queen’s University Belfast has closed its doors to an Australian euthanasia advocate who had planned to give a lecture on methods of committing suicide.
Dr Philip Nitschke, often referred to as ‘Doctor Death’, wanted to show an audience at the university how to put together a suicide kit.
But university authorities stepped in to prevent the session from going ahead, explaining: “The reported views of Dr Nitschke were not deemed appropriate for this event.”
During his sessions, Dr Nitschke displays various methods of committing suicide including an “exit bag”, morphine and “DIY Peaceful Pills”.
Local figures have said that the planned lecture would have been particularly inappropriate in light of recent teenage suicides in the Province.
Former First Minister Dr Ian Paisley said: “There have been several recent tragedies of young people committing suicide, and to put into the public information about how to do it is very, very dangerous for them.”
This is the latest of Dr Nitschke’s workshops to be banned by local authorities. Bournemouth council recently intervened after the euthanasia advocate tried to run a session in the area.
Bournemouth was apparently chosen as a location for a seminar on how to commit suicide because of its large number of elderly residents.
There have been recent calls for the UK’s law on euthanasia to be watered down.
However, Dr Tony Calland of the British Medical Association’s Ethics Committee said: “Any kind of change in the law would risk vulnerable people being covertly coerced into taking their own lives or prematurely ending them for the benefit of relatives financially or because of the commitment to look after them.”
Speaking last weekend, palliative care expert Dr David Jeffrey expressed similar concerns: “Some of those who have been prominent in campaigns to change the law have been articulate and able to express themselves confidently,” he said.
“My concern is with people who are frightened, possibly depressed and bit confused.
“These are people who don’t know where to turn and who feel they are a burden. The law has to protect them.”