The Peaceful Pill Handbook is a controversial book giving instructions on how to perform euthanasia. It was originally published in the U.S. in 2007 and was written by the Australian doctors Philip Nitschke and Fiona Stewart.
The book describes legal and moral aspects of suicide and euthanasia and provides how-to instructions for several suicide methods. The primary focus of the book is on peaceful (non-violent and painless) suicide methods that can be used by seriously ill and elderly people. To distinguish between suitable and non-suitable methods, Dr. Nitschke introduces the RP (Reliability-Peacefulness) rating. One of the recommended suicide methods involves drinking pentobarbital, a drug that Mexican veterinary drug stores sell (illegally) without prescription.
The book was initially banned in New Zealand since it was deemed to be objectionable. The ban in New Zealand was lifted in 2008. The book is banned in Australia, in both printed and, according to wikileaks.org, online versions. At the same time, the book was freely sold in other countries, in particular by Amazon.com in the US. Since May 2008 it has been allowed for sale in New Zealand if sealed and an indication of the censorship classification was displayed. To circumvent the continuing import ban in Australia, an online for-pay ebook edition was launched in October 2008. The more expensive online edition includes videos and other material, not available with the printed book. The Australian government included the handbook website in its internet filtering plan in 2009. (See Internet censorship in Australia).
Nitschke was involved in an argument in the press with the family of a woman suffering from post-natal depression who read the book and took the advice offered about travelling to Mexico. Her drawn-out death caused her family to attack the accuracy of the book's advice. Nitschke responded by saying that there was no way of knowing which drugs the woman actually took and whether the drugs were still potent.
Because there are problems with the "Mexican option" (high cost of travel, high crime rate in Mexico, unreliability of drug availability, counterfeit or expired Nembutal), Nitschke announced, in December 2008, that he now supported the use of a do-it-yourself euthanasia device that relied only on easily available items. Later in 2009 he announced the availability of a testing kit to help people determine if the Nembutal they had bought was still potent.
- Final Exit by Derek Humphry
- The Complete Manual of Suicide by Wataru Tsurumi
- Suicide methods
- Euthanasia device
- In Tijuana, a Market for Death in a Bottle, The New York Times, 21 July 2008
- Office of Film & Literature Classification – "The Peaceful Pill Handbook banned"
- "Ban on euthanasia book lifted in NZ". smh.com.au. http://news.smh.com.au/world/ban-on-euthanasia-book-lifted-in-nz-20080511-2cxv.html. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
- "Classification board defends euthanasia book ban. 25 February 2007. ABC News Online". www.abc.net.au. http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200702/s1856344.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
- Moses, Asher (2009-09-02). "Conroy urged to 'end net censorship farce'". smh.com.au. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/conroy-urged-to-end-net-censorship-farce-20090902-f7n3.html. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
- Office of Film & Literature Classification
- How-to-die book launched online, The Age, 13 Oct 2008
- Moses, Asher (2009-09-02). "Conroy urged to 'end net censorship farce'". smh.com.au. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/conroy-urged-to-end-net-censorship-farce-20090902-f7n3.html. Retrieved 2009-09-03.
- "Doctor caught in Mexican stand-off". www.theaustralian.news.com.au. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24820306-28737,00.html. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- Wheatley, Kim (2008-12-16). "New death device to be launched in Adelaide". www.news.com.au. Archived from the original on 2012-12-30. https://archive.is/54Zlt. Retrieved 2008-12-19.