Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nitschke encouraged Adam Maier-Clayton suicide.

This article was originally published by Hope Australia on April 22, 2017.

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell

Anyone who has ever sat on an awards committee knows well that there are standards to be met. Make the award too easy to attain or provide it to someone who has not met the criteria and the currency of the award is diminished. Raise the bar too high and no-one applies.

At Exit International they must have ridiculously low standards. Exit boss and former medical doctor, Philip Nitschke recently awarded his so-called 'Peaceful Pill Prize' to an elderly Australian couple essentially because the woman concerned recently cried a patronising 'bullshit' at Professor Margaret Somerville on an Australian National current affairs program.

Nitschke claimed that Mr & Mrs Fellows' comments were 'forthright' and 'a significant contribution to the Australian Euthanasia debate'. Crass and undignified more like it!

There was a time when everyone understood that to raise one's voice or to swear in the context of a debate was to lose the argument. Maybe not so much nowadays; after all, the show's presenter, Tony Jones said that the 'bullshit' comment was 'refreshing' which seemed to me, at the time, to be a ringing endorsement of Mrs Fellows' sentiment.

Nitschke's endowment upon the Fellows', it seems, was no accident either. He admits that the couple are members of his Exit organisation and exemplars, one suspects, of Exit's new militant wing, Exit Action. Is it just me or does anyone else reason that Exit is synonymous with militancy; so why the need for tautology? If the Fellows' have set the standard perhaps we can expect more of this revolting behaviour as other card-carrying Nitschke-ites vie for the same prize.

So, what do the Fellow's gain for their inglorious moment? Steak Knives? Champaign perhaps? No. 'Two redeemable vouchers for 12mg packages of pure sodium pentobarbital (nembutal).' I suppose an alternative might have been a lifetime membership, but I digress.

The award ceremony will surely raise the interest of Border Protection & Customs Police. But, of course, Nitschke's not stupid: "As possession of this drug in Australia is illegal, the details of the delivery of the prize will be kept confidential. Delivery will be by unconventional means" said Nitschke. He added that the prize would amount to a 'safety net' for the Fellows - how bizzarre.

The Fellows, by their own admission are not unwell but simply don't want to live in a nursing facility in their decrepitude. None of us does, really, let's be honest. That's an issue that many of us will face; but few, I suspect would want to try to foister upon society a euthanasia regime with all its attendant and irretrievable risks simply for the sake of getting our own way. That's tyranny clothed as autonomy.

The Fellows may not have thought that through. Maybe they are unaware of the trail of grief created by Nitschke's 'collateral damage' in the deaths of young people via Exit methods; young men like Lucas Taylor, for example.

But people who are used to getting their own way don't necessarily consider much else in the drive for autonomy. The well, well-off but worried have a very blinkered view re-enforced by the Nitschke mantra of rationality.

Such was the assurance given by Exit's youngest member-now-statistic, Adam Maier-Clayton who died by suicide recently in Canada. 27 year old Maier-Clayton had some significant mental health issues yet claimed to be entirely 'rational'.

According to one report, he suffered anxiety, mood disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder and tried all sorts of remedies and relief to no avail; difficulties that should not be discounted. He spent the last few months campaigning for the inclusion of mental illness within the scope of Canada's new death legislation, arguing that it is not only those who are near death suffer refractory symptoms.

In January he posted a picture of himself wearing an Exit T Shirt with an image of Nitschke emblazened across it, saying that he was, 'rocking his Exit International Official membership' adding that he felt that he was 'absurdly rational' and should not be excluded from Canada's death laws.

Notwithstanding Mrs Fellows' expletive, just because someone can engage in a process of thought does not necessarily make them truly rational. It is not necessarily thought processes that suffer through depression, unremitting pain and the like; it is, in my own experience, the connection with others that diminishes - the threads that bind us to each other. In other words, the context of one's life can seem strangely distant. Blurred by pain, remove the context of care, of family of future from the equation and thought - even seemingly rational thoughts - and logic becomes an untrustworth guide.

So explained columnist, Andrew Lawton recently in the Canadian Global News:

"This idea that suicide is dignified and painless is a dangerous one. Take it from someone who tried and failed. 
"Nearly seven years ago I overdosed on dozens of pills — causing multiple cardiac arrests and weeks in hospital on life support. 
"I survived, but only narrowly so. 
"Everything from the method to the date and time was meticulously thought out. 
"I picked the day because I didn’t have any other appointments scheduled — as though missing a meeting would have been the only problem with my plan any other day. 
"Suicidal people are irrational. This is true even when decisions appear to be made through logic and reason. 
"I saw suicide as the answer to pain I was convinced wouldn’t abate. 
"It wasn’t just about picking the easy way out of an unpleasant situation — it was the only way. I saw no way my life would improve. 
"Spoiler alert: it did. 
"Like Maier-Clayton, I had tried myriad therapies, medications, and treatment throughout my years-long battle with depression. By the time I tried to pull the plug on my own existence, none had made an impact. 
"But after the attempt, that changed. Healing didn’t happen overnight, but things that hadn’t worked previously showed positive results. 
"My circumstances didn’t change, but my outlook did."
It must surely be amongst the very last things that a society would want to have to someone like Nitschke telling suicidal people that their desire for death is 'rational'. It's an endorsement. Like euthanasia & assisted suicide, it runs counter to suicide prevention.

Likewise, telling those who understandably fear their demise that they have a 'way out', that, effectively, they don't need to address their fears nor find a path through them to a fulfilling life inspite of them, is reckless.

But these are precisely the messages that euthanasia and assisted suicide laws send - with the added weight of government approval. We need to learn not to reward bad behaviours and bad ideas.


Damaged_bad_at_best said...

This is a choice, assisted dying isn't something that will be forced on people, you can choose. Some people don't believe in it, and that is fine for them, some do so why shouldn't it be ok for them? I work in a nursing home and believe me most people have no idea how someone passes away. I myself have lived with chronic pain for 10 years so far, why do other people get to tell me I'm not allowed to stop living when I've had enough? It will always be someones choice so why not provide a save way to do it? I followed Adams story, he provided more than enough evidence of his suffering, and he repeated many times he wanted to be alive. Maybe you should have given more of your time to learning about him before writing this.

Cautionary tales said...

Totally agree with you Paul, this was a very sad case and very bad medicine. The fact that the father is currently an activist for assisted suicide also suggests some family dynamics at play as well.

Unknown said...

The basic premise that suicide is always irrational is nonsense. Even many people with mental illness can display competency and understanding regarding life/death decisions. The common tactic of anti-euthanasia sites is to blur the categories and throw assisted dying in the same boat, it is not the same. Assisted dying is about human autonomy, personal decision, and what should be a basic human right. Nobody is forced or coerced to die.

To dangle medicated carrots with the promise of 'something helpful coming' and to keep people guinea pigs for big pharma is not the same as respecting the rights of an individual when they've seen enough. If assisted dying 'and' prospective medicine or treatment was offered in some cases, we would display full respect and options for the individual concerned.

John said...

It is unethical to long from a person who is suffering daily, both mentally and physically, to keep on living. Nobody has asked to be born and thus begin life, so they should have atleast the right to end it.

agwoodliffe said...

Cam 76 says ''To dangle medicated carrots with the promise of 'something helpful coming' and to keep people guinea pigs for big pharma is not the same as respecting the rights of an individual when they've seen enough''

This sounds exactly the same as what Adam Maier-Clayton was saying. You're really quick to disregard psychotherapy. And I understand why. If a disease is genetic, then surely just talking about it is useless right? I mean, you can't talk away cancer, so what point is there in talking away a mental illness? Well guess what: there's at least 1 scientific study here which throws a spanner in that theory:

And that's not all. There is a more recent scientific study which shows that the standard antidepressant Fluoxetine can EITHER HAVE A POSITIVE OR A DETRIMENTAL EFFECT DEPENDING ON THE ENVIRONMENT YOU ARE IN. So basically, if you are taking medication, but are still in an environment that makes you unhappy/unfulfilled/uncomfortable, then it's useless:

So ladies and gentlemen, THIS could be why the individual quoted in the original article suddenly started to improve after his suicide attempt. Intuitively, you'd think a change of environment and talking therapies would be useless against a mental illness. Well apparently science is proving us wrong :/

sam plover said...

First of all, I totally agree with you on what constitutes rationality. So I am guessing that the writer here is rational, so we will go with that. To use the word bullshit is simply an exasperation at a wordy, dominating hierarchy.
To claim Adam had mental illness is strictly opinion, or is it lack of evidence based on the all knowing science at our disposal? So you are saying that any illness that cannot be identified using today's (which are really 35 or more years old) tools, is then a 'mental illness'? Droll. And since you use scientific tools to try and discover a reason for illness, which scientific tools are used to diagnose mental illness? Oh yes depression from symptoms classifies as a mental illness. Dear Sir, you speak from a place of health, but you also have no worries about an ugly end, since you have friends in high places.
To be obsessed with what people choose is a bit compulsive. Or is it a blow to the ego, or is it because you would like to 'protect vulnerable people'.
Not too long ago, women had hysteria in the face of real illness. Women still have hysteria in the face of real illness, but psychiatry has termed it differently.
Your arguments are simply power related, power that you feel is slipping. And if it is another reason, I would suggest seeking out a shrink. Supposedly 4 out of ten people suffer a mental illness, that means that 40% of the people you work with in the medical field are afflicted and might have good judgment impaired. Now that is scary.
I doubt that you will post this.
Oh and faceoff, psychiatry as it is now is on the way out. You must realize that compulsion to watch people's behavior is nutters. And that is why psychiatry is moving slowly backwards with old treatments back on the horizon. The new failed, so we grab where we left out. Ultimately, the least educated person will gain insight into what is truly happening, it is simply called insight, not ruled by ancient dogma or ability to regurgitate. An open mind learns new things.