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Archbishop warns on recklessness of suicide pill

Adelaide's Catholic Archbishop Leonard Faulkner has warned that pro-euthanasia advocates of a so-called "suicide pill" are sending a reckless message to vulnerable groups in the community, particularly among young people.

Archbishop Faulkner, the national spokesman for Australia's Catholic bishops on issues of life and family, said he was alarmed to see the recent media reports that euthanasia activists were planning to develop a "suicide pill" to be made available to people wanting to take their own life.

"The effect of such a pill in our community would be dreadful," Archbishop Faulkner said. "Even the suggestion of it must be distressing for parents who are grieving for sons or daughters who have taken their own lives.

"We know that suicide is a national crisis in Australia and that many young people are particularly vulnerable to such messages about suicide which are intrinsically negative.

"The media generally adopts a responsible, cautious approach to even reporting suicide because of the acknowledged risk that prominent reporting of suicides, and suicide attempts, can lead to "copy cat" suicides or attempted suicides, particularly by those young people who may be distressed or emotionally unstable and therefore vulnerable.

"In this climate it shows an utter disregard for life to be openly discussing, and in some cases championing, something like a 'suicide pill' and suggesting doctors would assist in devising such a pill for people to kill themselves.

Archbishop Faulkner said the mission of the church was to promote and defend a culture of life, not death, and he was pleased to see so much effort being put into providing palliative care programs for the terminally ill in South Australia.