Tuesday, July 17

Suicide machine enables death in the blink of an eye


A newly developed ‘suicide machine’ called Sarco, short for sarcophagus, is close to being the first device which offers an ‘elegant and stylish’ method of ending your life with the blink of an eye. Dr Nitschke, the director of Exit International, is close to finalising the development of Sarco which is designed to enable individuals to end their life without assistance.

Sarco was inspired by Tony Nicklinson who, in 2012 had been battling to kill himself for seven years. Nicklinson suffered from locked-in-syndrome- as a result of a severe stroke which left him unable to speak or move. His condition meant that he was unable to use existing assisted suicide methods which involved pushing a switch or pressing a plunger as his only way of communicating was through blinking and eye movements.
Nicklinson’s lawyer contacted Dr Nitschke to investigate the possibility of new technology which could be triggered with blinking commands. Sarco was not complete in time for Nicklinson who died after refusing food and fluids.

It is thought that the first fully functional Sarco device will be built later this year in the Netherlands and will be shipped to Switzerland where euthanasia laws are more relaxed.

Dr Nitschke has said:

‘death shouldn’t be something you do hidden away in a back room somewhere, it should be stylish and elegant.’

The device fills a capsule with nitrogen which induces hypoxic death to the occupant. Researchers believe that this avoids anxiety and discomfort. The biodegradable capsule can then be detached from the device to serve as a coffin.

Sarco’s futuristic design is intended to look as if it is taking you into the future but has also raised concerns that it is glamorising suicide. Dr Nitschke acknowledges the debate surrounding Sarco explaining that, ‘gas may never be an acceptable method for assisted suicide in Europe due to the negative connotations of the Holocaust.’ He added that some have described it as a ‘glorified gas chamber.’ Sarco was however, intended to open up the euthanasia debate without the connotations of fear and shock.

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About Author

Hannah is a third-year law student at the University of York and has a particular interest in public law and international criminal law. She joined Legal Loop in August 2017.

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