Science

Covid: Austria shaken by suicide of doctor targeted by anti-vaxxers – Sciences et Avenir

In Vienna, the bells of St. Stephen’s Cathedral rang this week, and candles formed a “sea of ​​fire” against “emotional violence” and “terror” on the Internet. Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, 36, was found dead on Friday 29 July 2022 at her office in Upper Austria (North). Farewell letters were found and an autopsy performed at the request of relatives confirmed the version of suicide.

People pay tribute to Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, the doctor who committed suicide after receiving Covid anti-vaccination threats on social media, August 1, 2022 in Vienna (AFP – Alex HALADA)

In a post posted at the end of June on her professional website, she announced the end of consultations until further notice. “For more than seven months now, we have been receiving death threats on an irregular basis from circles opposed to Covid measures and vaccinations,” she wrote. She said she “invested more than 100,000 euros” to ensure the safety of her patients and spoke of the unacceptable situation.

“At the End of My Rope”

“I am at a dead end, I am threatened with insolvency,” she admitted to the press.

People pay tribute to Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, the doctor who committed suicide after receiving Covid anti-vaccination threats on social media, August 1, 2022 in Vienna (AFP – Alex HALADA)People pay tribute to Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, the doctor who committed suicide after receiving Covid anti-vaccination threats on social media, August 1, 2022 in Vienna (AFP – Alex HALADA)

In support of her claims, she relayed messages from a user who threatened to impersonate a patient before committing massacre against her and her staff. Lisa-Maria Kellermayr has been targeted after criticizing the mandatory vaccination protest movement in the fall of 2021. Since then, she has unsuccessfully alerted the authorities and has made frequent media appearances to confess her grief. The life of this practitioner with a big smile and a passion for her work turned into a living hell. Daniel Landau, the organizer of the memorial ceremony in Vienna, met her in mid-July at her office. “She lived there as a recluse for weeks, she didn’t dare to go out,” he told AFP, now calling on authorities to raise awareness.

The police, who accused Ms. Kellermayr of rigging the case “for her own fame,” assures that everything has been done to protect her. The Wels prosecution also defended itself against any infringement. “As soon as we received the police report (identifying one of the suspects), we forwarded it to the German authorities,” spokesman Christoph Weber said.

Scientists “shut up”

Tribute poured in from the highest peak in the state. President Alexander Van der Bellen traveled on Monday to the small town of Seewalchen, where she has taken up residence, to lay flowers.

People pay tribute to Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, the doctor who committed suicide after receiving Covid anti-vaccination threats on social media, August 1, 2022 in Vienna (AFP – Alex HALADA)People pay tribute to Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, the doctor who committed suicide after receiving Covid anti-vaccination threats on social media, August 1, 2022 in Vienna (AFP – Alex HALADA)

“Let’s put an end to intimidation and fear. Hatred and intolerance have no place in Austria,” he denounced shortly after announcing his death. Malicious comments continue to circulate in Telegram groups. Some netizens are “celebrating his death, others are linking his death to the vaccine,” reports social media specialist Ingrid Brodnig, explaining that Covid, by polarizing society, “has caused a phenomenon of extreme aggressiveness among some.” “Strict laws” exist, but they are still little or poorly enforced, she said, hoping for improvements “after this incident that shocked the nation.”

In France, Karine Lacombe, a scientist “violated” at the height of the pandemic, also laments “the lack of feedback from the authorities”, such as two of her complaints being “taken lightly” and classified “over-quick”. If she was able to overcome the ordeal thanks to the support of her hospital team, the infectious disease specialist, part of a team of scientists known for fighting misinformation about Covid, chose to keep a low profile. “I was in high demand in 2022, but I was very infrequent in the media to avoid this outbreak of violence. We tell ourselves that the game is not worth the candle. In that sense, they (the aggressors) are winning, they are shutting us up,” she regrets.

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