Beyondblue: Dr failed duty of care to suicidal man
THE chairman of Beyondblue has said Dr Philip Nitschke's support of a 45 year old able-bodied man with depression who ended his life was reprehensible.
The ABC reported Perth man Nigel Brayley, 45, died in May this year after taking the euthanasia drug Nembutal, which he illegally imported.
In emails obtained by the ABC, Mr Brayley admitted to Dr Nitschke he was not "supporting a terminal medical illness", but said he was "suffering".
Now Dr Nitschke is being accused of moving into uncharted territory by agreeing to assist Mr Brayley despite knowing he was not terminally ill.
Beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett AC said the man did not have a terminal illness and Dr Nitschke's actions were a gross breach of his Hippocratic Oath as a doctor, and offensive to all standards of common decency.
"Equally unacceptable is Dr Nitschke's comment that he did not see it as part of his responsibility to refer the young man to an appropriate specialist for further treatment," Mr Kennett said.
"So our GP detects we have cancer and does not refer us to an oncologist? Our GP detects we have a mental illness and does not refer us to a psychologist or psychiatrist? Dr Nitschke says 'no, support a young individual to end their life'."
"In my 14 years leading beyondblue, I know our team, our work, together with many other such organisations, have saved and repaired many lives. We exist to improve the quality of life for Australians, not end it.
"Millions of dollars are being spent by governments and community organisations, correctly, to reduce suicides in Australia.
"The latest preliminary figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 2012 indicate 2535 Australians took their own lives that year, which equates to seven deaths a day - twice our road toll.
"That figure is unacceptable, and we are all working to reduce it, except it seems Dr Nitschke who seems to be working to add to those numbers.
"Dr Nitschke has coined the phrase 'rational suicide' to justify his involvement in this case, and we hear he wants to have a conference next year in Australia on the subject. I do not mind discussion, and I am happy to participate in debates putting a contrary point of view. But that is very different from direct action that assists the ending of a life of an able bodied person.
"As a long-time supporter of euthanasia for the terminally ill, for those for whom the dignity of life has been lost, and under special conditions, I believe Dr Nitschke's latest act has crossed the line of decency and professional conduct.
"He has done his more general cause for euthanasia a great deal of harm.
"I trust the appropriate Medical Board or Boards, and Governments will move quickly to investigate Dr Nitschke's latest act. He has done society a great disservice, and in my opinion should no longer be registered to practise as a medical professional."
If you have any concerns in regards to mental health contact beyondblue 1300 22 4636.