A suicide workshop run by a euthanasia advocate nicknamed Doctor Death has been cancelled after the local council in Bournemouth intervened.
Dr Philip Nitschke was planning to appear at the Adult Learning Centre in Ensbury Avenue next Thursday. He intended to display various methods of committing suicide, including an “exit bag”, morphine and “DIY Peaceful Pills”.
According to right-to-die organisation Exit International UK, Dr Nitschke chose Bournemouth because “there are lots of older people there”.
Dr Nitschke’s campaigning in Australia’s Northern Territory led to the legalisation of euthanasia there in the 1990s, but the law was overturned by the federal government nine months later.
Before the law was overturned, he helped four people end their lives using a “Deliverance Machine”. He has continued to advise people on the best way to commit suicide.
Dr Nitschke’s Deliverance Machine consists of a computer that asks patients a series of questions. After they press a button three times, the computer administers a lethal dose of barbiturates.
Speaking about the workshop, Dr Nitschke said people “can learn about various strategies and then get on with living life, knowing they have an insurance plan should things turn bad and death becomes an option”.
But Bournemouth Councillor Pat Lewis said: “I am extremely concerned. It sounds like he will be giving the exact advice we don’t want to give.
“I’m very upset to hear that he will be putting his ideas forward in our town.
“The people and families concerned are the most vulnerable – this is very worrying.”
Earlier this month Baroness Warnock stirred up controversy by suggesting that elderly people with dementia should be helped to commit suicide if they become a burden to their families or the state.
Responding to her comments, Mike Judge of The Christian Institute said: “Baroness Warnock seems to be saying that a person’s life is only worth continuing if it is valued by other people and, more worryingly, by the state.
“It is appalling to suggest that the elderly should have to consider it a duty to end their own lives in case they become a burden on their families. Surely the real duty lies with their families and with society to care for them.”