Dr. Philip Nitschke calls himself the Elon Musk of assisted suicide.
The Australian scientist has been a long time advocate of euthanasia, driving his inspiration from Jack Kevorkian, the biggest proponent of mercy killing in America. Kevorkian developed a simple machine called the Thanatron, which essentially consisted of three syringes and an electric switch, which, when pressed, unleashed the lethal ingredient through two intravenous tubes. Nitschke set out to make an updated version of the suicide machine in the 1990s, which he called “the Deliverance.” During the short period when euthanasia became legal in Australia’s Northern Territory, Nitschke assisted four people in committing suicide through his device. Soon after, though, mercy killing was once again illegal Down Under, and Nitschke had to stop developing the machine.
In the years to follow, the Australian scientist worked with colleagues to create a suicide capsule that could successfully — and almost painlessly — help people die. He made a failed “exit bag,” which, although effective, never took off because people didn’t want to die in a “plastic bag.” Other similar devices were also constructed and discarded. But last year, he made the prototype of a suicide machine with an engineer in the Netherlands, called the Sarco capsule. As Life News reports, it is a small space-like capsule that can be assembled in any location with the help of a 3D printer.
As Newsweek reports, the Sarco is a sleek machine, which, Nitschke insists, is also luxurious. Its design resembling a spaceship is intended to convince users that they are journeying to the great beyond. First the person who wants to use it has to pass an online mental test, after which the user is provided an access code for 24 hours. The access code lets the user enter and lie in the Sarco, after which he or she can press the activation button, which allows canisters to release liquid nitrogen, quickly dropping the oxygen level inside the capsule and leading to death in a few minutes. More remarkably, the capsule re-purposes as a casket after the user is dead. No wonder Sarco has been called the “suicide coffin.” It has also been dubbed the Model S of death machines. Elon Musk must be proud.
Indeed, Nitschke can hardly control his excitement. This week, his home state of Victoria made euthanasia legal, meaning the scientist can begin assisting people in committing suicide using his new machine. He maintains that older people above the age of 70 reserve the “right to die,” and he believes more people in pain will begin turning to the machine now that euthanasia is being legalized at several places. In the United States, physician-assisted suicide has been legalized in Washington, California, Vermont and Oregon, and the number is only set to increase further.
“I’ve seen a marked difference between generations,” the Australian scientist sounded hopeful on the prospects of his suicide machine. “Boomers want to be in control of their own deaths. They don’t like the idea of someone patting them on the head and telling them what to do.”