Austrian leaders appealed for national unity after a doctor who faced death threats from anti-vaccination activists and coronavirus pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life.
“Let’s put an end to this intimidation and fear-mongering. Hate and intolerance have no place in our Austria,” said President Alexander Van der Bellen.
He hailed Lisa-Maria Kellermayr as a doctor who stood for healing people, protecting them from disease, and taking a cautious approach to the pandemic.
“But some people have been enraged by this. And these people scared her, threatening her, first on the internet and then 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 yesterday.
The media cited prosecutors as saying they had found a note and were not planning a post-mortem examination.
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 shocked the country, which the Austrian physicians’ association said reflected a broader trend of threats against medical staff.
“Hatred against people is inexcusable. This hatred must finally stop,” Health Minister Johannes Rauch said.