The Australian News 25 July 2014
THE term “death coaching” is how Judi Taylor describes the tragic suicide of her 26-year-old son Lucas in a deserted park in Germany. “It was death-coaching, not life coaching, that killed him,” says the Melbourne mother of three sons. Lucas, a talented linguist, ended his life after taking a ¬euthanasia drug he had bought in Peru. Judi Taylor says her son’s every step and every instruction — and strong encouragement — came from a Peaceful Pill online forum run by Exit International, the pro-euthanasia lobby group run by now-suspended medical practitioner Philip Nitschke.
Dr Nitschke has declared he will mount an appeal after being suspended by the Medical Board of Australia following his admission he supported 45-year-old Perth man Nigel Brayley in his ¬decision to commit suicide, despite knowing he was not terminally ill. He will be suspended until the end of September pending further investigation by the board.
BeyondBlue chairman Jeff Kennett yesterday welcomed the decision, saying “We cannot allow the debate to start that it’s all right for a 16 year old — or a 45 year old — simply because they’re having an off day to attempt to take their own life.”
It was a secretive world that Judi Taylor discovered only after his death, when she and her ¬remaining sons hacked into his computer, found his Peaceful Pill forum password and began reading a bizarre and grim litany of ¬online conversations. “There seemed to be hundreds of people busy talking to each other about the best methods to commit suicide,” she says. “Lucas mentioned in his posts that he’d learned about importing illegal drugs and what airports to use. One person would say: ‘Oh, Nembutal’s the way to go.’ They’d discuss whether the best place to go was China or Peru. “It seemed to be peer-to-peer communication, and in all the hundreds of messages nobody was saying they had a terminal illness … What Lucas definitely said was ‘I’m not sick yet’ and ‘I’m quite able-bodied’.” There were even messages to Lucas from a “moderator” Mrs Taylor describes as calling himself Doctor Ted. “He seemed to come in when a medical query needed answering.” He told Lucas ‘because of your weight, you’ll be needing this much Nembutal’.” The mother, who had spoken regularly to her son overseas via Skype — and had seen no outwards signs of depression — could barely believe what she was reading, for hours online, tracking his methodical “coaching” descent towards suicide.
…The suspension of Dr Nitschke’s licence was welcomed by South Australian Health Minister Jack Snelling and AMA branches in Western and South Australia, where Dr Nitschke first registered. WA AMA vice-president Andrew Miller said: “Our profession is relieved to be rid of him and wish to assure the community we will always help those with treatable illnesses to recover and live.”
Mr Snelling said he wanted to ensure “Dr Nitschke and his abhorrent views aren’t being practised in a medical context here in South Australia’’.