A doctor has created a machine which allows people to die on their own terms in a five minute, painless process.
Dr Philip Nitschke, affectionately referred to as ‘Dr Death’, has created the Sarco, a device which allows people to die at the time they want.
Nitschke is the founder of Exit International – an organisation which promotes voluntary euthanasia. He has written a suicide handbook, and believes that euthanasia should be available to everyone who is able to choose.
He believes the right to die is a human right, and as such has developed a machine which gives people the opportunity to die peacefully.
The Sarco can be printed with a 3D-printer and uses liquid nitrogen to kill the person inside.
It is a capsule, which administers the gas, killing the person over a period of five minutes. The gas fills the capsule and slowly cuts off oxygen, but it is a peaceful process.
There are safety mechanisms in place which mean the device can’t be used to kill people – it can only be operated from inside the capsule – and the user can stop at any point up until the point they lose consciousness.
The Sarco has already attracted attention in many European countries, but, predictably, Nitschke has received considerable controversy for his career’s efforts.
Speaking to Tonic about his views on euthanasia and suicide, Nitschke said:
When I was working to legalize euthanasia in Australia, I met more and more people who wanted to die but didn’t have a medical reason.
One of them was a French woman, a scholar, who had planned to die at age 80. Not because she was sick, but simply because she thought that was a beautiful age to pass away.
When I responded with initial skepticism, she answered—and she was right—that it wasn’t my place to judge her. She said it was her decision, one that isn’t bound by the rules I follow as a doctor.
Partially due to her, I changed my mind. I became convinced that death should be a right for any sane human.
Nitschke says the most common opposing opinion is that there is no such thing as a ‘rational suicide’, because wanting to commit suicide is something which can only come about as a result of psychiatric illness, though he rejects this idea.
He says that if someone wants to kill themselves, and they are of sound mind, there is nothing someone should do to stop them. In Nitschke’s mind, it is his job to create a peaceful passing.
Nitschke also rejects the idea that he is ‘lowering the threshold’ for people committing suicide, and argues that people are going to do so either way, and will chose a violent way to do it.
The doctor hopes to have the device available within the next few months, though there is no release date yet.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.