Sunday, 7 April 2013

Liverpool Care Pathway - And "Rational" Suicide

The Pro-Death Candidacy

Euthanasia is not only for the ‘terminally ill’; it is for those who, quite simply, want to terminate their life. This is The Age, Victoria -

Rational suicide: Why Beverley Broadbent chose to die
April 2, 2013

Julia Medew

Beverley Broadbent was not dying of a terminal illness, nor was she depressed or unhappy. But at 83, she wanted to die.

After living a rich and satisfying life, the Brighton East woman said the ageing process had come to feel like a disease that was robbing her of her physical and mental fitness. In February, she said she had had enough.

''I look well and I walk well so people think I'm fine. But I have so many things wrong with me,'' she said. ''The balance is gone. It's taking so much time for me to keep fit to enjoy myself that there's not enough time to enjoy myself.''

In several interviews with Fairfax Media, Ms Broadbent said she planned to take her own life so she could have a peaceful, dignified death. She said she did not want her health to deteriorate to the point where she had dementia or found herself in a nursing home with no way out.

The environmental activist chose to tell her story because she believed many elderly people wanted to die when they felt their life was complete, but lacked the means to go gently.

Euthanasia campaigner Rodney Syme, who met Ms Broadbent several times before her death, said he believed she had not been depressed and had made a choice that many other elderly people would like to emulate.

He said an increasing number of older people were contacting him on the issue. Many wanted to avoid nursing homes.

Although polls show about 80 per cent of Australians support voluntary euthanasia for people with a terminal illness, Dr Syme said the question of elderly people being given the right to die had not been publicly debated in Australia.

This was despite the fact that many elderly people were severely disabled and experiencing great suffering on a par with that caused by cancer or other painful diseases, he said.
''Unfortunately, often people in Bev's situation who do try to talk about these things are patronised by their family, who say: 'Don't talk like that gran, no, no, no, you're all right.' They are put down and patronised, no one gives them a voice,'' he said.

''I think it's an issue for which a lot of people probably have very quiet and hidden opinions. It's an issue which is going to assume greater and greater importance and it's about time the community started to debate it in a logical way.''

But Dr Katrina Haller, senior executive officer of Right to Life Australia, said Ms Broadbent's story exacerbated her concern that elderly people were increasingly being viewed as a burden when they should be valued, supported and not ''dumped in old people's homes''.
She said increasing discussion about elderly people taking up too many hospital beds, for example, could be encouraging suicide when the community was spending a large amount of money trying to prevent people taking their own lives.

''Elderly people can be coerced into feeling they are a burden on their family and their friends and the medical staff at hospital - and hospitals have other agendas, don't they? They want to free up beds and minimise the money spent on people,'' she said.

Dr Haller said that although Ms Broadbent's story was an emotional one and might be hard to argue with, it did not amount to a case for legalising physician-assisted suicide, which would create a culture of death and turn doctors into killers.

She said legislating a right for elderly people to die would inevitably start a debate about others, including people with dementia and children with disabilities.

''Where do you draw the line? … In Belgium and the Netherlands [where euthanasia is legal for some people] the door gets opened a bit wider as years go by,'' she said.

For help or information call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251 or Lifeline on 131 114, or visit 

Euthanasia is not only for the ‘terminally ill’; it is for those who, quite simply, want to terminate their life.

This is Mamamia -

Even euthanasia advocates are disturbed by this story.

Think that you know where you stand on the euthanasia debate?

Think again.

Channel 7′s Sunday Night program went to air last night with a story that was both controversial and deeply confronting.

Susan Potts was a healthy 89-year-old. She was fit, physically mobile and by all accounts living a happy and enjoyable life; unencumbered by the illness and disease that plague many others her age.

The former model lived an existence that Elizabeth Taylor would have been proud of. Susan was married three times, she was a wildly successful businesswoman whose wealth mean she could live a life of luxury on the Gold Coast (complete with a vintage Rolls Royce to drive around).

On 19 October this year Susan Potts gave an interview, which was put to air on yesterday’s program. She didn’t tell her friends or family that she had given the interview. She didn’t tell them what her plans were. She didn’t say goodbye.

And then, on 23 October, she took her own life.

Euthanasia is not only for the ‘terminally ill’; it is for those who, quite simply, want to terminate their life.

A doctor reports in the Calgary Herald on assisted suicide in Oregon –

I was caring for a 76-year-old man who came in with a sore on his arm.

The sore was ultimately diagnosed as a malignant melanoma, and I referred him to two cancer specialists for evaluation and therapy.

I had known this patient and his wife for more than a decade. He was an avid hiker, a popular hobby here in Oregon. As he went through his therapy, he became less able to do this activity, becoming depressed, which was documented in his chart.

During this time, my patient expressed a wish for doctor-assisted suicide to one of the cancer specialists.
Rather than taking the time and effort to address the question of depression, or ask me to talk with him as his primary care physician and as someone who knew him, the specialist called me and asked me to be the "second opinion" for his suicide.

She told me that barbiturate overdoses "work very well" for patients like this, and that she had done this many times before.

I told her that assisted suicide was not appropriate for this patient and that I did NOT concur.

If Shipman was callous and totally lacking in any sensitivity to the enormity of his deeds, then the attitude of this doctor must be judged in like manner. The doctor is calmly discussing the taking of a life.

…barbiturate overdoses "work very well" for patients like this

…she had done this many times before

It is surreal. There is no care or concern for the patient as a human being. It is a process, a formality. A procedure is become a brutal, callous, thoughtless conveyer belt devoid of feeling, sanitised by a cruel logic.

With every new case, the medical personnel become more case-hardened. It is obscene.

"She said legislating a right for elderly people to die would inevitably start a debate about others, including people with dementia and children with disabilities.''Where do you draw the line? … In Belgium and the Netherlands [where euthanasia is legal for some people] the door gets opened a bit wider as years go by,'' she said."

KPCChristian News reports -

‘Let teens make assisted suicide plans’ says MSP

 by Admin

Patients as young as 16 in Scotland would be able to tell their GP about their desire for assisted suicide, under controversial proposals from an MSP.

Margo MacDonald MSP has been criticised for a revised assisted suicide Bill which would enable people aged 16 and over to have their end-of-life wishes on record.

Councillor Jeremy Balfour of the Scottish Council of Bioethics raised serious concerns about the proposals.
"She said legislating a right for elderly people to die would inevitably start a debate about others, including people with dementia and children with disabilities.''Where do you draw the line? … In Belgium and the Netherlands [where euthanasia is legal for some people] the door gets opened a bit wider as years go by,'' she said."
Mail Online reports -

Dr Death suicide film being shown in schools: Euthanasia fanatic gives workshop on how to kill yourself in educational video for 14-year-olds


Pupils are being taught about euthanasia with a video featuring a notorious assisted suicide campaigner nicknamed Dr Death. 

Dr Philip Nitschke is shown demonstrating his machine that delivers lethal injections in the film, which is already being shown to pupils as young as 14 across the country.

There is also footage of him giving workshops on assisted suicide methods, which church leaders have criticised as an 'invitation to commit suicide'. 

Controversial: A scene from the video being shown in schools which features Dr Philip Nitschke, a man condemned by both sides off the euthanasia lobby
Controversial: A scene from the video being shown in schools which features Dr Philip
Nitschke, a man condemned by both sides off the euthanasia lobby as irresponsible

The decision to include Dr Nitschke in the video was condemned by campaigners both for and against assisted dying, and a psychologist warned that it could encourage vulnerable teenagers to end their lives.

The video is being shown as the BBC stands accused of being 'a cheerleader for assisted suicide' after filming a man killing himself at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. 

Writer Sir Terry Pratchett, an outspoken advocate of euthanasia, presents the documentary which is due to be broadcast on BBC2 this summer.
"She said legislating a right for elderly people to die would inevitably start a debate about others, including people with dementia and children with disabilities.''Where do you draw the line? … In Belgium and the Netherlands [where euthanasia is legal for some people] the door gets opened a bit wider as years go by,'' she said."
Euthanasia legislation opens the door...

Euthanasia/assisted suicide is opening a can of worms.

Euthanasia/assisted suicide is opening a Pandora’s Box.

Euthanasia/assisted suicide is a slippery slope to Hell.

This is vtdigger. org -

Page: Assisted suicide law sends contradictory message

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Guy Page, a parent and resident of Cambridge.
In the Jan. 19 mail I received a letter from Lamoille Union High School, where my daughter is enrolled. It begins with the following sentence: “Over the last few years Vermont has seen an increase in suicide among young people.” It went on to describe a school initiative to hopefully address this awful development. I hope they are successful. All of my children have friends, or friends of friends, who have taken their own lives.

My eldest son, Tim, was a constant suicide risk through his teens. Through the wise, compassionate help of state social workers, Tim escaped his teen years alive. I can tell you that he was personally shaken by the implications, to him, of the proposed assisted suicide law several years ago. When he heard about it, my brilliant, troubled son began to shake in anger and almost despair. “Those hypocrites,” he said. “They’ve been telling me all this time that suicide is never OK.” It didn’t matter when I said the law is meant to address another set of problems – his teenaged hypocrisy-o-meter had already pegged assisted suicide as another example of “do as I say, not as I do, it’s all right for adults, not OK for kids.”

Recently I researched teen suicide in Oregon, where assisted suicide became legal in 1998. According to the Oregon health department website, there were more teen suicides after the law passed than before — 1999: 29 suicides. 2000: 44 suicides. 2001: 31. 2002: 37. 2003: 46. 2004: 52. The last two years were the highest two-year period in their survey. Furthermore, 94 percent of teen suicide attempts leading to hospitalization were caused by ingesting drugs – the only form of assisted suicide permitted by Oregon state law. Kids learn from their elders.

Does this “prove” a link between the Oregon physician-assisted suicide law and teen suicide? No. But the burden of proof is on those who say, “Don’t worry, it will all be OK, none of our teens will think that.” As a parent of an at-risk child, I think this law may unintentionally tell other troubled teens “when it gets too hard it’s okay to end it all.” As the letter from my daughter’s high school says, the real world is a very hard place for some teens right now, and I think this law will just make it harder.

There are plenty of other reasons to oppose this bill. Before my wife passed in February 2011, she was appalled and upset at end-of-life questions asked of her in the ICU that to her seemed motivated by hospital cost-control. It drove a (thankfully temporary) wedge of distrust between her and her caregivers. So Vermont Insurance Commissioner Steve Kimball’s newspaper comments connecting this end-of-life issue with the high cost of health care were chilling. By contrast, Orange County Sen. Mark MacDonald’s daughter was one of Diane’s nurses and provided skilled, affirming care that should be the goal of the state’s health policy. But for me the teen suicide connection is reason enough for the Senate to drop this bill before it does irreversible harm.

This is Dr. Phil “Death” Nitschke in debate -

Intelligence Squared Debate: Euthanasia Should be Legalised

Death is the most personal of matters, but it’s also a political hot potato. Most of us don’t choose (or even expect) the way in which we die, but for the terminally ill, death is a looming certainty to be dealt with. And as humans live longer – largely thanks to the interventions of modern medicine – we’re more likely to die of serious illness, and to have our deaths medically postponed. There has long been a call for governments to grant us the right to choose our own death, by legalising euthanasia. But what are the circumstances in which this right should be granted? Who gets to decide – and when? And then there’s the sobering knowledge that this is one life decision that can’t be reversed.

From medicos to philosophers, politicians to law enforcers, the terminally ill to their loved ones, this one issue we all have an opinion on – and a possible stake in.
Speakers for the motion include Beth Wilson, the outgoing Victorian Health Services Commissioner, Professor Loane Skene, an ethicist at the University of Melbourne, and Dr Philip Nitschke, the founding director of pro-euthanasia group Exit International.
Speakers against the motion include Dr Shakira Hussein, from the Asia Institute at University of Melbourne, Scott Stephens, religion and ethics editor for ABC Online, and Associate Professor Bill Silvester, Director Respecting Patient Choices Program at the Austin Hospital, and Intensive Care Specialist.
And how do you square this? Dr. Phil “Death” Nitschke has advocated euthanasia for teens...
Dr Nitschke has advocated that anyone who wants to (even teenagers) has a right to die, if they so wish, and should be assisted to do so painlessly as possible. [Life]

Dr Nitschke has advocated voluntary euthanasia for the “”troubled teen”", involuntary euthanasia for seriously ill newborn babies and voluntary euthanasia for prisoners. 
A quote from Nitchscke’s book Killing Me Softly: “”One can but wonder when a government will have the guts to stop digging the fiscal black hole that is their ever-deepening legacy for future generations. While the enabling of end-of-life choices will not fix the economic woes of the next forty years, it would not hurt, given half a chance. 
So the next time you hear a government minister trying to argue why this or that payment or welfare program for single mothers or war veterans must be cut, counter their argument with their fiscal irresponsibility on end-of-life choices. “” [Mamamia]
And this is People -

A Tragedy in Wales: A Small Town Mystery

These Young People Are Among 79 Locals Who've Hanged Themselves in This Tiny Corner of Wales. Now Residents Pray the Deaths Will Stop

On an April morning in 2009, Michelle Stephenson opened her second-floor bathroom window to let in the sunlight. Just over a year before, her daughter Kelly-smart, pretty, just 20 years old-had looped her bathrobe belt around her neck and hanged herself in her uncle's house a few hours north of their hometown of Bridgend, Wales. Michelle and her husband, Dean, were climbing back from their crushing grief; only the day before, they had finally seen a counselor. "I hoped we'd start to feel better," she says.  But instead, Michelle looked out the window and saw Dean, 41, in the backyard, using his jacket to hang himself from their 3-year-old daughter's green swing set. "I ran downstairs hoping he had just done it," Michelle, 41, remembers. "I went outside, and I knew then he was gone. Our son Dale took him down and laid him on the ground. I sat and held his hand and waited for the police."  The deaths of Kelly and Dean were unquestionably shocking, but perhaps more disturbing, they are just two in a series of hanging deaths that have taken place in and around Bridgend since 2007. As of February 2012, an astonishing and baffling number of people in the area-79, most of them between 15 and 30-have apparently taken their lives in a gruesome procession of mortality. The mystery of the suicides is deepened by how strangely similar they are. All of them were by hanging, and only a few victims left a note. Like Michelle Stephenson's husband, nearly all of those who killed themselves had some connection to earlier victims, and most ended their lives without warning-come right after assuring others they would never do it. While some experts believe that suicides, especially among young people, can occur in clusters, the numbers in Bridgend go beyond anything anyone has seen before. "This number of suicides in one area is completely unheard of," said Dr. Lisa Boesky, author of When to Worry: How to Tell If Your Teen Needs Help. "Here in the States we don't have anything this extreme, but suicide clusters do happen."  The suicides have turned Bridgend-a working-class former mining town of some 39,000 people near the western shore of South Wales-into a place of palpable sorrow and dread. Nestled in a valley and often shadowed by dark clouds and thick fog, the town cannot escape the specter of so many unexplained deaths, and authorities there are desperately trying to prevent copycats. Two years ago police asked the media to stop covering the suicides, which has led many to believe the death toll is higher. An officer at the Bridgend police station told a reporter for PEOPLE, "I'm not allowed to talk about it. It would be my job." And the South Wales police department declined to comment beyond saying through a press officer that "we do not believe the deaths were linked."  The absence of concrete answers or plans on how to control the deaths has led to wild speculation: Could the deaths be the work of a serial killer? Could there be a suicide cult? Did the victims-most of them normal kids, many with solid plans for the future-make some kind of secret pact to meet on the other side? Prior to the news blackout, police insisted there was no evidence of such a cult or pact. Yet there is no denying the connections among the victims or the feeling each hanging somehow triggered the next-an unstoppable contagion that has left locals terrified. After her husband's death, "If my son was late getting up, I was petrified, and he felt the same way about me," Michelle, a schoolteacher's assistant, says of her son, now 19. "I still wonder sometimes what am I going to find upstairs."  The horror began on Jan. 5, 2007, when the decomposed body of Dale Crole was found hanged in an abandoned warehouse near Bridgend. Dale, 18, left no note. Just six weeks later, one of his friends, David Dilling, 19-a boy who had recently told his mother, "I'm going to see the world"-hanged himself from a tree behind a church. Then one of David's friends, Tom Davies, 20, laid out his suit for David's funeral, walked to the tree where his friend had died and hanged himself from an adjacent tree.  After that the deaths continued at a sickening pace. In August 2007 Zachary Barnes, 17 and hoping to become a fitness instructor, hanged himself from a clothesline in a neighbor's yard. In January 2008 the first female victim-Natasha Randall, 17, tall and pretty and always cheerful-was found by her father hanging from a banister in their home.  The next month a man walking his dog in a field found Jenna Parry, 16, hanging from a tree in a clearing; she'd used a low branch, so she looked like she was kneeling in prayer. Her mother, Anne, says her daughter left the house upset that her ex-boyfriend was seeing another girl. Still, "I think she made a mistake. She never meant for it to go that far," she says, fighting back tears. There are other cases like Jenna's, in which some setback or argument has been followed by a hanging. Liam Clarke, 20, was a champion tae kwon do black belt and stellar employee at a Bridgend recycling company. At a Christmas party he wore a blow-up Santa suit and cracked up his coworkers. But two days after that Christmas in 2007, following an argument with his girlfriend, Liam was found hanged in a playground. "It was like he had a tantrum and said, 'I'll show you,'" says his mother, Alison. "I think that's what a lot of them have done. They're like, 'I'm going to show you then.'"  In other cases it seems like some relentless force is possessing the victims. Justin Beecham, 20, "went from being a happy-go-lucky guy to a zombie," says his mother, Elaine. In February 2010 Justin admitted he was feeling suicidal, and his parents arranged for him to see a counselor. One night he went to the very tree where his friend Tom Davies had died, slung a bathrobe tie over a branch and tried to kill himself. The tie broke, and Justin called an ambulance. Hours later, he told his mother, "Lucky for you, it snapped." About 1:45 a.m., Justin grabbed a belt and stormed out of the house; his mother phoned police. "I could hear the police yelling, 'Justin!'" she recalls. "Then I heard a scream, and 'Get a knife, quick.'" This time, Justin succeeded.  Some believe the wave of hangings has made other young people in Bridgend feel hopeless and drawn to a dark and seemingly popular alternative. "When one person starts doing it, everyone thinks, 'Oh, it's cool to do it,' but it's not," says Jack Mantell, 17, who was friends with the youngest victim so far-Carl Robertshaw, a sweet 13-year-old who died in 2010. At the funeral of Liam Clarke in January 2008, his friend (and ex-girlfriend) Kelly Stephenson told her mother, "I cannot believe he would be so selfish," recalls Michelle. But one day after learning her cousin Nathaniel Pritchard, 15, had hanged himself, Kelly did the same.  Since the hangings began there has been a sameness to the rituals forced on those who lost loved ones: parents trudging to the morgue to identify their children; teens getting tattoos to honor their friends. The sadness is overwhelming, but the people of Bridgend are fighting not to give in to the darkness-not to be, as British tabs have called them, "the town with no hope." For her 40th-birthday celebration, Michelle Stephenson—who has lost six family members and close friends-invited 150 guests and chose a prom theme. Everyone bought gowns, and a deejay spun old songs-as if, for one night, they could roll back time. "People told me they were proud of me," she says. "I pick myself up and carry on."  But in Bridgend a haunting question is never far from anyone's mind: Why did they all want to go? "This is one of those mysteries where we may never know the answer," says Liam Clarke's father, Kevin. "Not in a million years." 
New York Times
And the suicide rate may actually be much higher, since many car crashes here involving teen-agers are believed to be suicides, with the drivers intentionally taking their cars over cliffs or crashing them into walls. 
In one neighborhood of Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, eight teen-agers have killed themselves so far this year. 
Many New Zealanders suggest that the suicide figures show something has gone terribly wrong in the way they raise their children. But the theories about the cause are as numerous as the specialists who offer them.
Tragedy… Shock… Horror…
Is it that they did away with themselves, or the manner in which they did away with themselves? Is this "rational" suicide? Can suicide be "rational"...? Dr. Nitschke, the next time you see someone at the brink, should you try to talk them back? Should you offer them a hand... or a push?

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