The Peaceful Pill Handbook is a book setting out information on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. It was originally published in the U.S. in 2006 and was written by the Australian doctors Philip Nitschke and Fiona Stewart. In 2008 the online handbook was launched. Called The Peaceful Pill Handbook, it contains video clips on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia methods and related issues, but does not provide “how-to” instructions. The Handbook is updated six times a year. A German edition of the print book — Die Friedliche Pille — was published in 2011. A French edition — La Pilule Paisible — was published in June 2015
The book is primarily intended for seniors, people who are seriously ill and their families and friends. It is also a resource guide for those working in public health and aged care. The book rates over 15 approaches to euthanasia according to reliability and peacefulness scales.
Strategies covered by the books include: the use of gases (such as nitrogen), poisons such as carbon monoxide, non-prescription drugs such as chloroquine, prescription drugs such as insulin and the opiates and former prescription drugs such as the barbiturates. The book details lawful means of obtaining and administering the drugs and other peripheral issues such as drug storage, shelf life and disposal. The Swiss assisted suicide services are also covered in detail, as are issues such as the writing of wills, advance directives and issues of determining testamentary and decision making capacity.
One of the more controversial aspects of the book is its coverage of the Internet as a source of drugs. To this end, the authors publish a regular neighbourhood watch that warns about internet scammers and fake and fraudulent websites.
Suicide, from Latin suicidium, is “the act of taking one’s own life”. Attempted suicide or non-fatal suicidal behavior is self-injury with at least some desire to end one’s life that does not result in death. Assisted suicide is when one individual helps another bring about their own death indirectly via providing either advice or the means to the end. This is in contrast to euthanasia, where another person takes a more active role in bringing about a person’s death. Suicidal ideation is thoughts of ending one’s life but not taking any active efforts to do so. It may or may not involve exact planning or intent. In a murder-suicide (or homicide-suicide), the individual aims at taking the life of others at the same time. A special case of this is extended suicide, where the murder is motivated by seeing the murdered persons as an extension of their self. Suicide in which the reason is that the person feels that they are not part of society is known as egoistic suicide.
The leading method of suicide varies among countries. The leading methods in different regions include hanging, pesticide poisoning, and firearms. These differences are believed to be in part due to availability of the different methods. A review of 56 countries found that hanging was the most common method in most of the countries, accounting for 53% of the male suicide, and 39% of the female suicides.
Worldwide, 30% of suicides are estimated to occur from pesticide poisoning, most of which occur in the developing world. The use of this method varies markedly from 4% in Europe to more than 50% in the Pacific region. It is also common in Latin America due to the ease of access within the farming populations. In many countries, drug overdoses account for approximately 60% of suicides among women and 30% among men. Many are unplanned and occur during an acute period of ambivalence. The death rate varies by method: firearms 80–90%, drowning 65–80%, hanging 60–85%, car exhaust 40–60%, jumping 35–60%, charcoal burning 40–50%, pesticides 60–75%, and medication overdose 1.5–4.0%. The most common attempted methods of suicide differ from the most common methods of completion; up to 85% of attempts are via drug overdose in the developed world.