The Assisted Suicide of a Healthy New Zealand Woman - Dr Philip Nitschke

4 February 2008

The New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre – The Nathaniel Centre – is deeply distressed at the comments of Dr Philip Nitschke as reported in The Sunday Star Times. [3 February 2008]

His comments reflect an appalling lack of understanding of the needs of the terminally ill as well as people who suffer from depression.

If people are depressed our efforts need to be focused on restoring their self-worth and supporting them with our caring presence rather than simply providing them with a recipe to kill themselves while leaving them in their isolation.

Care of the terminally ill and the depressed requires a holistic approach that also and necessarily addresses the spiritual, emotional and social dimensions of health and well-being. We are all ill-served by Dr Nitschke's impoverished view of end of life care and medical practice.

Dr Nitschke is also on record as saying that the knowledge he provides should be readily available to "anyone who wants it, including the depressed, the elderly bereaved, the troubled teen." Is this where we really want to go in New Zealand society?

Dr Nitschke's message is the complete antithesis of the clear message given by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand to encourage people to seek help for depression.

Rev Dr Michael McCabe
The Nathaniel Centre
The New Zealand Catholic Bioethics Centre