On Monday at the well known, humanist Conway Hall, Dr Philip Nitschke - dubbed Dr Death for attention grabbing headlines - will be launching the Peacefull Pill ehandbook, which will put practical information about voluntary euthanasia online for the first time. He'll then be hosting a workshop for over 50s only, discussing different ways to die when death becomes a preferable option to life, whether terminally ill or totally aged, covering the "exit bag & Helium; Morphine; Drugs from Mexico & DIY Peaceful Pill". Helpfully, the legal implications of each option are also covered. Thus, equipped, the choice is yours.
Dr Nitschke leads Australian organisation Exit International which believes that everyone has the right to a peaceful death. Australian law prevents the handbook being published over there, but our own liberal publishing laws allow this UK launch. Of course, the information giving workshops about end of life choices are being branded "DIY suicide classes" by our more sensitive newspapers and hence, the Bournemouth hotel that was going to host the second of these sessions has since pulled out, presumably amidst fears that local resident old folk would be topping themselves in the bar afterwards.
Others fear that the already depressed may flock to these sessions, perhaps with fake ID for those not past the big five-oh, eager to get some top tips for a swift and painless exit. Yeah, because, in our experience, most severely and long term depressed suicide risks are motivated and rational enough to book a place at a workshop, shell out a £20 donation and get off their arses onto public transport and into Central London to attend a lunchtime meeting. Uhuh.
We think it more likely that the launch will be populated with the prurient press and a group of thoughtful older people, ill or not, genuinely concerned with what's going to happen them when they can't look after themselves any more. This is information and advocacy. It's about making informed choices. The outraged Catholic Dean in Bournemouth's statement that 'to end it all is a completely selfish act which does a lot of damage to other people who have to witness it and put up with the consequences' is perhaps, unwittingly, an encouragement for people to find out what their options are, so that a peaceful death is possible and no one gets left with the trauma of a botched suicide or unanticipated criminal charges.