Suicide robot shoots man dead

BRISBANE - An elderly man has used a home-made suicide machine to shoot himself dead on Queensland's Gold Coast.

The 81-year-old built the machine with plans off the internet and used it to fatally shoot himself in his Burleigh Heads driveway yesterday, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.

A police spokeswoman confirmed the man's death but would not comment on the circumstances, except to say a report was being prepared for the coroner.

However, the newspaper reported the machine was attached to a .22 semi-automatic pistol loaded with four bullets and was capable of multiple fire once activated.

It said the man had left a note saying he had not wanted to move out of his home and into a care facility.

University of Queensland school of psychology senior lecturer Judith Murray said such machines were usually used by people who wanted to euthanase themselves, but did not want to involve others in the illegal act.

But it was difficult to comment on what was behind the man's choice without having met him, she said.

"The biggest danger that we have in this area is those of us who are healthy making an assumption about what it's like ... part of the process of ageing for some people is just saying, `I don't want to do this any more'," she said.

Euthanasia campaigner Phillip Nitschke said if the man had been ill, the case highlighted the need for the legalisation of peaceful euthanasia in Australia.

"I think that the fact that people are going to such extreme lengths to be able to develop that sort of option would suggest that having some sort of legislation would be (beneficial)," Dr Nitschke told AAP.

He said he had never heard of such an "extreme and bizarre" case but it did not surprise him.

"The commonest way people use to end their life in that age group is by hanging and that's again one of the arguments we use," he said.

"Many of these people are people that are finding themselves in a situation where they find death is the preferred option but they have no access to anything more peaceful and certainly there's no legislative way out."

- AAP

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