Dr Philip Nitschke is the genius behind the creation of the ‘suicide machine’ that is being condemned by opponents of euthanasia. Dr Philip Nitschke is a well-known advocate of euthanasia and therefore is able to incite a controversy every now and then by supporting ‘rational suicides’.
Dr Nitschke has developed different machines that could be used for administering lethal doses of barbiturates by individuals. His latest design is for a machine that relies on nitrogen gas for causing death. He said that the idea was born because of conversations that took place in 2012 during the case of a British man, Tony Nicklinson. Tony suffered from locked-in syndrome – the outcome of a severe stroke from 2005 that had rendered him unable to move or speak.
Mr Tony was denied his request for allowing his doctors to assist him with suicide legally. In hopes of assisted suicide options, his lawyers had also contacted Dr Nitschke. This led our inventor to come up with a design for the machine that could be triggered by only the blinking of the user, thus removing the need of others to help with suicide.
The said machine operates by filling a capsule with nitrogen, thus causing the hypoxic death of the occupant. Dr Philip Nitschke has stated that death indeed comes without any discomfort but also acknowledges the resistance to his methods because of the historical reasons. He said, ‘Gas may never be an acceptable method for assisted suicide in Europe due to the negative connotations of the Holocaust. Some have even said that it’s just a glorified gas chamber.’
Once the hypoxiation process is completed, the biodegradable capsule can be detached and serves as the coffin for the deceased person. The machine is called Sarco, short for sarcophagus, and is raising concerns because of its glamorous appeal. Sarco was displayed during a virtual reality experience on 14 April in Westerkerk Church in Amsterdam for the Funeral Expo. Jeroen Kramer, who is the president of the Westerkerk Church board, said, ‘We will not and cannot support any suggestion of using such equipment. Westerkerk will never support people by offering equipment as promoted by Dr Nitschke, and we seriously wonder whether this contributes to a thorough and careful discussion around this issue.’
Dr Philip Nitschke said, ‘Virtual reality offers a way for people to experience their own virtual death. People seemed to be really interested in this.’ The very first functional Sarco machine will be built later this year in the Netherlands, eventually getting shipped to Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal. Dr Nitschke also has plans of coming up with a 3D printable version of Sarco. What do you think of this?