MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Last week, it was announced that Claus Fritzsche had killed himself on 14 January 2014 at the age of 49. He was an industrious blogger and evangelic promoter of alternative medicine who seemed to spend much of his time and energy to defame those who disagreed with him. In this capacity, he certainly did tirelessly direct ‘ad hominem’ attacks in my direction. When it was revealed, about two years ago, that several German homeopathic firms paid him generously for this activity, his sponsors withdrew with plenty of egg on their faces, and subsequently Fritzsche’s insults became less frequent.

I never met Fritzsche in person but, over the years, I had many email exchanges with him. Invariably, these were unpleasant, to put it mildly. One might admire his tenacity but, from my perspective, it was hard to like Fritzsche. During the last months of his life, I refused to have contact with him, even via email – not because I failed to find our correspondence interesting or amusing, but because our exchanges always ended with some sort of escalation of aggression from his side.

Why then does his death sadden me so deeply?

Any death is a sad event but, if a death is so unnecessary and wasteful, it is particularly depressing. Fritzsche clearly had many skills and a lot of talents. He was young, intelligent and probably was a pleasant person to know personally, at least that is what some people who knew him have said. Alright, we did not agree on many things, but that does not mean that he was a bad person. He just seemed extremely irrational and tragically delivered the ultimate proof for his irrationality through his suicide.

Nobody knows what motivated Fritzsche to kill himself [when Walach speculated that his financial situation following the disclosure of the nature of his sponsorship had anything to do with it, he finds himself yet again way beyond the established facts]. Presumably, he suffered from depression, and presumably he was deeply insecure, and perhaps he was also desperately lonely.

Suspecting that this was the case, I now wish I had continued writing emails to him. Having argument after argument, even at the risk of getting yet again insulted and attacked, might have just been what was required to prevent him sliding into the abyss. I feel sorry for breaking off email contact when, in a strange sense, he might have needed me and the type of irritation people like me seemed to cause him.

14 Responses to Thoughts about Claus Fritzsche’s suicide

  • My sympathies go out to you, Prof. Ernst, and others who have known Claus. It’s not easy to deal with any suicide, and very common to think ‘what could I have done differently to prevent it.’ However, when someone has unfairly attacked you so much with disregard to facts and ethics, protecting yourself is advisable. I did not know Claus but am thankful that he didn’t direct physical violence towards you in addition to himself. Unfortunately, he didn’t seek out effective medical care for his apparent suicidal depression.

  • Perhaps the poor man overdosed on homeopathic depression remedy? (I am not making a joke about the unfortunate Mr. Fritzsche or his suicide, just poking fun at homeopathy).

  • That’s really classy Irene. Good show.

  • Rather too many diagnoses going on here already for my liking without anyone, amateur or professional, having seen, been consultant to or been consulted by the person. Please stop it. People make personal choices about their lives and often about their deaths. It’s not for smartarse or half-baked outsiders, amateur or professional, to make judgements about this. Ethical practice? Who wants it?

  • As someone who has found himself royally disliked by his readers (a bunch of Republicans desperately in need of a lesson in race relations) your compassion touches me, Doc. You’re a great guy. And I’m glad we’re on the same side.

    In that spirit, I wish that you would read this short post I did. It’s something I’ve been saying for years, in much the same manner as your deceased friend, and after all this time I, too, would really appreciate some relief from what ails me.

    Take care, and all the best in the world.

    CMC

  • I also was touched by the death of Claus Fritzsche. It is a very sad and tragic event.

    Some have speculated about the origins of the email in which Fritzsche asked his collaborators for support to discredit the portrait of Edzard Ernst published in “Zeit Wissen” by Max Rauner. The email was passed to me. Can any light be thrown on how it came to light?

    • yes, of course.
      this was a ’round email’ sent by Fritzsche to Walach and several of his collaborators depicting their endeavours to defame me. It had been leaked to me by someone who was involved in these activities and had got hold of it. I thought that the email presented important evidence in the public interest, took the liberty to pass it on to Rauner and gave him permission to use it as he saw fit.
      For me, the email was an eye-opener regarding the methods my detractors are using to tarnish my name and undermine my reputation.

  • Just read this today. You have my full respect for your above words.

    Have worked with Claus Fritzsche for some years in a totally different business at the end of the 80s.

    He was a guy with different faces, most of the time friendly but not seldom leaving the impression, that he was not really living in the same world as we did. Often I felt, that he was getting very sad only by seeing that life is as life is. He was not able to reflect himself and to go for his goals. Maybe this has finally caused his suicide. He did not know his way and how to go there.

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