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Protest over Dr Death's Trinity talk on suicide

A CONTROVERSIAL doctor who teaches people how to end their own lives is due to give a seminar in Dublin next month.

Dr Philip Nitschke, a euthanasia advocate who is commonly dubbed 'Doctor Death,' advises the elderly and those who are seriously ill on "reliable and fast" ways to end their lives.

He told 4FM's David Harvey show that he will attend a debate on assisted suicide in Trinity College on November 17, where he will face the pro-life opposition.



Helium

Dr Nitschke currently advises his seminar attendees on the "exit bag," a bag which can be filled with helium and nitrogen and pulled over the person's head, resulting in death.

"Suicide is not a crime; you can do that but you've got to know what you're doing. One of those lessons is to make use of gas, simple gas like nitrogen and helium and a so-called exit bag and knowing how to do it is a difficult point, once you've learnt the process, it's a very straightforward process," he said.

He strongly defended his beliefs, telling the Herald that: "People say that because people are depressed we should never discuss this, because it's all too dangerous, but a lot of people want to know how to have a way of ending their life."

But Niamh Ui Bhrian, spokesperson for the Life Institute said Dr Nitschke is an attention seeker who is singling out the sick and vulnerable in Irish society.

"In my opinion he's only reaching out to people who are often vulnerable and depressed.

"Suicide is a shocking problem in this country. I think if he's a doctor he should be helping people to lift themselves out of depression, or helping them with palliative care.

"We all know people who've taken their own lives or who have cancer, and what he's saying is dangerous.

"I think he is a huge publicity seeker. He seems to crave attention and comes out every so often with a new device to end lives."

Despite the likelihood of protests, Dr Nitschke insists that "the majority of people in Ireland want the issue of choice"

"People do say that people who want to end their life need to have the symptom treated, but that's a very medicated view, and it's part of this idea that no-one of rational mind wants to end their life."



Peaceful

Separately he told 4FM that he teaches "a quick and peaceful process". "They faint and then die 4 or 5 minutes later. The first step is that you lose consciousness quickly, there's no drugs involved, it's simply a matter of filling the bag up and pulling it down and you lose consciousness within one breath.

"It's peaceful, it's reliable, it's fast, it doesn't involve drugs and it's totally legal."

Ms Ui Bhriain said: "He used to talk about Nembuthal, a drug used by vets, and then it was the euthanasia chair, and then the exit bag.

"He's getting more extraordinary by the minute."

hnews@herald.ie