Suicide deaths rise in Australia after promotion of illegal drugs

Xavier Symons
16 March 2013
Reproduced with Permission

More and more Australians are importing the illegal lethal drug pentobarbitone from overseas as a way of committing suicide. According to The Australian, Customs intercepted 76 small shipments of pentobarbitone products such as Nembutal in 2011-12, compared with only 25 two years ago.

This seems to correlate with deaths from pentobarbitone. In 2010, 13 pentobarbitone deaths were reported; in 2011 the figure rose to 30, with a further seven cases still under investigation.

Nembutal has received quite a bit of publicity as a result of promotion by euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke. He travels around Australia and overseas giving workshops on effective ways to commit suicide. One feature of the workshops is ways to make and to import Nembutal.

Customs has been cracking down on the imports. In 2012, the number of deaths fell to 17 with a further four still being investigated.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is investigating two complaints against Dr Nitschke, one for facilitating the supply of an illegal drug and the other for marketing nitrogen gas cylinders for committing suicide.