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News, 12 June 2003

12 June 2003

12 June 2003 The case of a 52-year-old woman who committed suicide, allegedly following advice from a website, has sparked a legal battle to crack down on websites offering information on suicide methods. The woman from St Louis in the United States had a history of clinical depression and used helium to asphyxiate herself. Printouts of instructions downloaded from the Internet were found nearby. St Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce claims that she would not have killed herself if it had not been for the content of the website and wants to bring charges of voluntary manslaughter against the person who provided the information. Suicide websites have sparked grave concerns by mental health experts and in March, the British government announced that it was investigating the possibility of censoring such sites. [Macon Telegraph, 11 June ] A 31-year-old geriatric nurse has appeared in a German court, charged with the murder of two patients. The nurse is alleged to have injected the two women, aged 81 and 89, with fatal doses of insulin and may have been involved in the deaths of at least six others. This is the second case of insulin murder by a geriatric nurse to have been reported in Germany in under a week. The nurse remains in custody and has refused to make a statement. [Expatica, 11 June ] A 76-year-old man has approached Kerala (India) High Court, appealing for the right to seek medical help to end his life. V K Pillai has already had his case turned down by the same court but is applying again on the grounds that he is ill but does not want to commit suicide as it would put him in a 'morally grey world of moral wrongdoing.' He has also asked to have his organs removed and donated. [www.web.mid-day.com, 10 June ] Following reports earlier in the week that Boston researchers had discovered an apparent link between the greater size of male babies and their stimulation of the mother's appetite, The Times has reported that the research may help to explain why children develop allergies. It has been suggested that pregnant women who consume protein rich foods such as peanuts or breathe in pollen may affect their unborn child as allergens cross the placental barrier. However, a more established theory is that the increase in allergies is due to the sanitised environments in which children in the UK and Northern Europe are growing up. [The Times, 12 June ]

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