Elderly Australian Man Creates Suicide Robot to Kill Himself, Used Internet Guide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 21, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Elderly Australian Man Creates Suicide Robot to Kill Himself, Used Internet Guide Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 21
, 2008

Canberra, Australia (LifeNews.com) — In another case of someone using information gathered from the Internet to take their own life, an elderly man from Australia killed himself after making a robot. Francis Tovey, 81, lived alone and wanted to kill himself after enduring repeated requests from family to move to an assisted living facility.

Unhappy with their request, Tovey scoured the Internet for information on making a robot capable for firing a semi-automatic gun pointed at his head.

When triggered remotely, the gun fired four shots that killed Tovey.

The Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper indicated Tovey set up the robotic device in his driveway early on Tuesday because he wanted construction workers at a nearby housing site to hear the gunshots and discover his body.

The newspaper indicated that’s exactly what happened.

"I thought I heard three shots and when we ran next door he was lying on the driveway with gunshot wounds to the head," worker Daniel Skewes said.

An unnamed neighbor said he had a good friendship with Tovey over the course of three decades.

The news is concerning to pro-life advocates who have been upset at numerous times over the years about suicide instructions appearing on the Internet.

Last year, the Australian government banned a book that gives instructions on how to kill yourself. Philip Nitschke, considered the nation’s "Dr. Death" and who has been banned from promoting assisted suicide on the Internet, is the author of the manual.

Last December, the Classification Review Board (CRB) allowed restricted sales of The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Nitschke and Fiona Stewart.

The book tells readers of various suicide options including how to manufacture or obtain and use various barbiturates.

But the government acted to limit sales of the book further when Attorney General Philip Ruddock and the New South Wales Right to Life Association issued complaints. The CRB reviewed them and voted unanimously to ban the book because it encourages readers to make their own drugs that can’t be monitored for their safety or distribution.