After receiving death threats from anti-vaccination campaigners and coronavirus pandemic conspiracy theorists, an Austrian doctor committed suicide, prompting politicians to call for national unity.
“Stop spreading misinformation and intimidating people. Our Austria is not a place for hatred or intolerance “President Alexander Van der Bellen praised Lisa-Maria Kellermayr as a physician who advocated for curing patients, shielding them from disease, and handling the pandemic with caution.
“But some people have been enraged by this. And these people scared her, threatened her, first on the internet and then also in person, directly in her practice.”
The body of the doctor — who had often given media interviews about fighting the coronavirus pandemic and promoting vaccinations — was found in her office in Upper Austria on Friday.
Media cited prosecutors as saying they had found a suicide note and were not planning an autopsy.
Austria last month dropped plans to introduce compulsory COVID-19 vaccination for adults, saying it was unlikely that the measure would raise one of western Europe’s lowest vaccination rates.
Tens of thousands of people had marched in regular protests against lockdowns last year and plans to make vaccinations mandatory, highlighting a social divide over public health measures that many countries have experienced.
But the doctor’s death — which the Austrian physicians’ association said reflected a broader trend of threats against medical staff — shocked the country.
“Hatred against people is inexcusable. This hatred must finally stop,” Health Minister Johannes Rauch said.