Death could be as easy, quick, and painless as simply pressing a button. At least, that’s what the creator of the world’s first 3D-printed “suicide machine” intends for the future.
Open to the public for the first time, Dr Philip Nitschke (nicknamed Dr Death) announced plans to debut his latest suicide-assisting machine “Sarco” (short for sarcophagus) at Amsterdam’s Funeral Fair later this month. You can try it out for yourself – at least, in virtual reality – by stepping inside a full-size depiction of the euthanasia capsule. VR glasses give the user a glimpse into how the death machine operates.
Plans for 3D-printing the capsule will be freely available on the Internet by next year, according to Nitschke, who says the device can be assembled anywhere to “allow a person a peaceful passing” at a location of their choosing.
Potential users for the real deal will have to fill out an online test to gauge their mental fitness. If passed, they will then receive an access code valid for 24 hours. Once the code is entered, another confirmation from the user must be given.
The Sarco will sit on a generator that uses liquid nitrogen that, when released, will bring down the level of oxygen in the capsule to induce hypoxia. The brain relies on oxygen to function. When put in environments with low levels of oxygen, the body slowly begins to shut down, resulting in confusion, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, sweating, and wheezing. In the Sarco, however, Nitschke says death will have “style and elegance” – within one minute, the user loses consciousness. Death shortly follows.
To activate the process, a person simply steps inside, lies down and, when ready, presses a button.
“A Sarco death is painless. There’s no suffocation, choking sensation or 'air hunger' as the user breathes easily in a low-oxygen environment. The sensation is one of well-being and intoxication,” wrote the company’s founder Philip Nitschke for Huffington Post.
The Sarco made headlines last year after the state of Victoria in Australia voted to legalize euthanasia. Media outlets deemed Nitschke the “Elon Musk of assisted suicide” and his death machine his “Tesla”.
Arguments against euthanasia address practical, ethical, and religious concerns, saying legalizing a person’s “right to die” could normalize suicide, be difficult to regulate, and that it accepts some lives are worth less than others. But Nitschke, who performed his first legal assisted death in 1996, argues the right to end one’s life is a civil right.
“The Sarco is intended to get people talking positively about death and with broader considerations than being afraid, scared or shocked,” says the press statement. “After all we are all going to die. Increasing numbers of us want some say in how we are going to die.”