Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Be careful when writing about suicide. Be aware of suicide contagion.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Recent articles about Kenneth Law, the Canadian man who allegedly sold 1200 suicide kits online, have created anger and disgust among many people, especially the families of the victims. 

Law has been charged with aiding and abetting suicide in the deaths of 14 Ontario residents, one of whom was 16-years-old. Law is being investigated for his alleged role in the deaths of 88 people in the UK and was allegedly involved in the deaths of many Americans, including 17-year-old Anthony Jones of Michigan.

On July 18, 2023, a Netherlands man (Alex S) was convicted for selling a suicide powder with instructions to as many as 1600 people and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison in relation to the suicide deaths of at least 10 people.

I am concerned about the suicide contagion effect when writing about Kenneth Law and (Alex S). I remain concerned about how people are writing about Philip Nitschke, who essentially makes his living selling suicide books, materials and devices, and is possible responsible for many more deaths than Law and (Alex S) combined.

Aislin Murphy wrote an article about Kenneth Law that was published by CTV News on July 25, 2023. In the article, Murphy interviewed Nitschke who essentially says that Law wasn't careful because he was selling the suicide substance to everyone, including teenagers. Nitscke, in the interview, justifies elder suicide. Murphy wrote:

While Nitschke advocates for seniors hoping to end their own lives, he says Law acted short-sightedly by allegedly selling sodium nitrite to younger individuals.

It is interesting that Nitschke, a long-time assisted suicide activist and makes a living selling his suicide books, materials and devices, was concerned about teen suicide. In a 2001 interview with Kathryn Lopez,

 Nitschke said that the "peaceful pill" should be provided to troubled teens. Nitschke stated to Lopez in 2001:

I do not believe that telling people they have a right to life while denying them the means, manner, or information necessary for them to give this life away has any ethical consistency. So all people qualify, not just those with the training, knowledge, or resources to find out how to “give away” their life. And someone needs to provide this knowledge, training, or recourse necessary to anyone who wants it, including the depressed, the elderly bereaved, [and] the troubled teen. If we are to remain consistent and we believe that the individual has the right to dispose of their life, we should not erect artificial barriers in the way of sub-groups who don’t meet our criteria.
Recently the media once again promoted Nitshcke's Sarco euthanasia capsule. The Sarco capsule was developed by Nitschke as a way to gain media attention and to promote his websites that sell suicide books, materials and gadgets. Nitschke is 'making a killing' on selling suicide.

Everything written about Nitschke provides free advertising and promotion for his suicide websites that enable him to make money selling suicide.

Be careful when writing about Dr Death.

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