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TV Suicide Video - Dr Nitschke [Dr Death]

9 November 2010

Media Release

TV Suicide Video- Dr Nitschke [Dr Death]

Right to Life is disappointed that the Commercial Approvals Bureau [CAB] has given approval for the screening of the video of Dr Philip Nitschke [Dr Death] promoting suicide on television in New Zealand. Are the broadcasting standards in New Zealand lower than those in Australia and Canada where the video was previously banned for screening, because it was classified as objectionable and in breach of broadcasting standards.

Right to Life requests that Television New Zealand [TVNZ] upholds the common good and promotes a culture of life by giving an assurance to the public of New Zealand that the suicide video will not be screened by TVNZ.

It would be inconsistent for our state owned TVNZ to be screening a video promoting suicide while the government is spending millions of dollars on its Suicide Prevention Strategy to reduce suicide in New Zealand. The governments Suicide Prevention Strategy is the responsibility of the Minister of Health. Right to Life requests that the Minister, the Honourable Tony Ryall defends the government’s strategy by publicly stating that the government is opposed to the screening of the suicide video on television in New Zealand.

It is contended that the CBA has erred in giving approval for the screening of the 45 second suicide promoting video as it is in breach of the Advertising Standards Authority Code of Ethics. It is in violation of the first Basic Principle,

“All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society.”

There are on average about 500 suicides reported each year in New Zealand. Suicides have a profound effect on families and whole communities. The screening of Dr Nitschke’s suicide video would be socially irresponsible and result in an increase of suicides.

It is in violation of Rule 5, which states that; “Advertisements should not contain anything which clearly offends against generally prevailing community standards taking into account the context, medium, audience and product”

The prevailing community attitude towards suicide is that it is unacceptable behaviour, promotes a culture of death, is contrary to the common good and is destructive of the social fabric.

It is in violation of Rule 7, which states that; Advertisements should not contain anything which lends support to unacceptable violent behaviour.”

Suicide or self murder is in itself the ultimate in violence against oneself, it is unacceptable to the community.

Right to Life fully supports a robust public debate on assisted suicide. New Zealand has previously had a full and robust debate on two “death with dignity bills”, they were both defeated in our Parliament. Dr Nitschke is seeking to impose this debate uninvited on New Zealanders in the sanctuary and privacy of their own homes, this is highly objectionable and should be resisted. There is a place for this debate and it is not in the lounges of New Zealanders.

New Zealand has a very high rate of suicide. Our youth suicide rate is tragically one of the highest in the world. It would be socially irresponsible to screen a video that could encourage youth suicide.

It is recognised that one of the major causes of suicide is depression. It is contended that the elderly and those afflicted with severe depression could be encouraged after viewing the video to consider suicide as a solution to their problems.

It is also contended that the suicide video is in violation of the Crimes Act 1961, section 179 which states, that it is a crime to “incite any person to commit suicide.”

Right to Life requests that TVNZ give an immediate assurance to the people of New Zealand that it will not screen this objectionable video.


ENDS

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