For more than seven months, the Austrian general practitioner, Dr. Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, received death threats and was verbally attacked by the anti-vaccination cult. She eventually closed her practice, no longer wanted to leave the house, and apparently lost the courage to live. Last Friday, she was found dead in her practice in Seewalchen on Attersee. The public prosecutor’s office in Wels confirmed that there were no signs of foul play. Letters of farewell had been found. It is generally assumed that, in her desperation, Kellermayr took her own life. A friend tweeted: “In the end, she begged for help – from politicians, from the police, from her medical association. It never came. The police and the medical association would mock her. They said Dr Kellermayrjust wants to seek the limelight. Politicians ignored her. Now she is dead.”
The GP had closed her practice at the end of June, only temporarily, she said initially, because she could no longer afford the costs for her security, including a bodyguard. She did not feel sufficiently protected by the police. “For more than 7 months, we have been receiving death threats from the Covid measure opponents and vaccination opponents scene at irregular intervals,” Kellermayr tweeted. Threats went as far as predicting a “massacre” in her practice. In one of the threatening letters, the author described in detail how he would first torture and then murder the doctor and her practice staff.
At the end of July, she closed her practice for good. For the doctor, who loved her profession, it was a terrible decision. “I put so much money and energy into it,” she told ‘Der Spiegel’ just one day before her death. By her own account, she had at that stage invested around 100,000 Euros in security measures.
It is claimed that Kellermayr was badly let down by the Austrian authorities. On Austrian radio, the police even stated that Kellermayr merely sought the limelight to further her career. Now an official complaint has been filed charging the authorities with neglect.
Unbelievably, the despicable agitation of the anti-vaccination cult continues even after Kellermayr’s death. Most of the agitators remain anonymous. But some are also agitating publicly, for instance, on Twitter: Harald Laatsch, an AfD member of parliament in Berlin, wrote that the doctor was a vaccination propagandist and probably “no longer wanted to live with the heavy guilt”.
After Kellermayr’s suicide, well-known German Twitter users are withdrawing from the platform. The Würzburg lawyer Chan-jo Jun turned his back on Twitter last Friday stating: “If I tweet about certain people, I get warnings in my letterbox the next day. I am reaching my limits. I’m now leaving the field to others. Until I find a concept of how an objective exchange can take place in social media.”
Doctor Natalie Grams, a well-known critic of homeopathy, is also closing her Twitter account. She plans to continue her commitment to evidence-based medicine with the help of her podcast, Grams explained in her farewell tweet.
Others reached a different conclusion. Dr. Christian Luebbers tweeted this (my translation): “Of course, I also considered deactivating my account here. However, I came to the conclusion not to do so and continue to educate people about pseudo-medicine and vaccination. I see this as necessary moral courage and will not leave the field to hate.” Personally, I agree with him.
I would like to use the tragic occasion of Dr. Kellermyr’s death as an opportunity for making a plea. It is high time that intolerance, aggression, violence, and hatred stop. Please, let us all calm down and discuss with dignity and respect whatever issues we might have. Please, let this terrible death remind us that we are all human beings. Please, let it be a lesson to all of us.
I think that this absolutely sickening comment from Laatsch has less to do with the anti-vaccination movement than with political extremists trying to sow hatred and disarray, in order to increase their influence and control over the public ‘debate’.
These people increasingly intrude into any political or societal protest groups, regardless of the cause or nature of these groups, in attempts to fan the flames and stoke unrest. They just try to hitch a free ride on any protest events without having to organize anything themselves.
And perhaps even more alarming than the actual incendiary messages from those extremists is the willingness of e.g. antivaccine groups to join up with those extremists, share a stage with them, and amplify their messages.
What we have here are groups of people whose main objective is to disrupt our normal democratic society by spreading hatred and nonsense, in the hope that in the ensuing chaos and highly polarized yet fractured political landscape, they can grab a bigger piece of the cake (i.e. gather a greater following).
you might be right
The fate of Dr. Kellermayr is tragic. Let´s hope that now at least those persons guilty of threatening her and those guilty of neglecting prosecution of the countless threats will be identified and convicted.
Maybe finally, criminal prosecutors will take threats on social media platforms more seriously.
Unfortunately, I think it is not likely that many of the anti-vax fanatics will follow your plea for humanity, until severe punishment will be the consequence of their hideous behaviour.
“Dr Kellermayr begged for help – from politicians, from the police, from her medical association. It never came.”
It won’t. Governments only help themselves. Likewise medical associations.
Why does it not surprise me to see such a comment from you, OB?
for those who read German, here is an interesting comment from an Austrian newspaper:
It’s rationalized misogyny. The Covid deniers and anti-vaxxers feel themselves to be speaking for a suppressed truth. They feel like victims, so that any amount of viciousness is OK, and they can unleash their misogyny.
Women leaders, whether they’re women politicians, this doctor promoting vaccines in the face of hostility to them, or women on Twitter who stand up for something, are treated in more vicious and threatening ways than are the men.
There really needs to be a better support system among people standing up for sanity in medical matters, so that they aren’t vulnerable to the viciousness, as this woman was.
And it is terrible to realize … too late to possible do anything about it … what this woman went through.
Not only the police but also Austrian medical representatives have failed.
Dr. Kellermayr should not have exposed herself so much on Twitter, was a comment by Peter Niedermoser, President of the Medical Association of Upper Austria. When Dr. Kellermayr announced that she was giving up her practice, another official said, without a shred of empathy, that a successor would quickly be found for a well-frequented practice.
how despicable !!!
That’s exactly like asking what a woman who was raped was wearing, or why she went to that area of town.
I just don’t see the point of Twitter at all, or any social media for that matter. The worst thing the internet ever spawned was anonymity–although in this case these horrible people seem to be using their own names in some cases. Perhaps they’ve been emboldened by the success of various cranks and creeps.
She said. Anonymously.
How awful. The doctor who runs the EveryDoctor campaign against NHS privatisation has terrible trolling on Twitter.
The purpose is solely to try to silence people.
MFG seems to be a political party in Austria;
they published a revolting press release about this tragic death [in German]: