Revelations this week that a UK company that produces educational videos for school children has included in its production vision of Dr. Nitschke’s ‘death machine’, explanations on how it works and footage from his workshops explaining his other suicide methods has shocked even pro-euthanasia advocates in the UK.
The Daily Mail report suggests that children as young as 14 years of age have seen the video sparking angry responses from pro-life groups and church leaders who described the video as an ‘invitation to commit suicide’.
At the same time the BBC is scheduling a program by euthanasia advocate Sir Terry Pratchett that features the death of a UK man in the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.
Claims by the education video producers that the issue is treated in a balanced way simply don’t add up. Including contrary messages from anti-euthanasia campaigners can never balance the chilling imagery of suicide described in graphic detail. Producer and Director, Thomasina Gibson’s comments to the effect that she is simply giving both sides of the argument and treating teenagers as ‘young adults’ is utter nonsense.
None of the media coverage has suggested that Nitschke was aware of the age level of the audience for the video production. But given his comments to the effect that young people should have access to his suicide methods and other comments advocating that such products should be on the supermarket shelves, complicity would come as no surprise.
Australians know all too well that suicide amongst our young people is a significant problem. That’s why our broadcast codes of practice explicitly reject such depictions of suicide. Yet give the poison a sugar coated veneer such as ‘educational’ or ‘balanced view’ and the Brits, it seems have swallowed the pill without prescription and without thought of the side effects.
When the ‘side effects’ are as devastating as the loss of a young life with known far reaching consequences such as copy cat suicides and a cluster of devastated families in its wake, we can only wonder at whether the Brits really are barmy or whether, like Sir Terry, there are euthanasia & suicide activists in the education ranks who either don’t care about the consequences or are so blinded by their cause as not to even notice.
And it’s not that such issues should not be broached with teenagers. I have personally spoken to many classes of students about the issues, but it needs to be done with care – and certainly without visuals. Anyone who has seen the Gruen Transfer show on ABC television knows the power of the image; it is beyond and sometimes entirely contra to the spoken word.
A friend suggested to me recently that, in terms of the negative effect that Nitschke has on pro-euthanasia legislation whenever he chooses to enter the fray that he’s very much ‘the gift that keeps on giving’. But in terms of protection for the vulnerable of any age, particularly the young, he and those he chooses to associate with are extremely dangerous.
Anyone listening at the AMA?