By Jonathon Van Maren
The headline in the Scottish Daily Express succinctly summarizes the reaction to a recent invention by Australian Dr. Philip “Death” Nitschke: “Outrage as scientist backs gas chamber ‘death pod’ scheme for Scotland.” Nitschke has become notorious over the past several years due to his high-profile promotion of his “do-it-yourself death pods,” airtight capsule-shaped pods in which the suicidal can seal themselves and release a nitrogen gas that will knock them out in 60 seconds and kill them within 10. It is not as swift a death as the lethal injection method but does have the benefit of ensuring that other people do not have to be involved.
Nitschke first marketed his “Sarco” death pods to the Switzerland last year — a prime definition for “suicide tourism” where people can travel to have themselves killed in a variety of spa-like resorts created for that purpose. “Sarco” is short for “sarcophagus,” but the device is designed to look like a spaceship to symbolize the send-off to a new “destination,” as one Swiss suicide provider noted. The Sarco pods have been displayed in the Netherlands and Germany but have only been used in Switzerland. Nitschke hopes that his death pods will become widely available through downloadable designs and 3-D printing.
He is at it again, advocating his 3-D printed invention to the Scots, writing to Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur, who is pushing a so-called “assisted suicide” bill, that his sleek-looking death pods “lead to a peaceful, even euphoric death.” He did not add that he is merely assuming this, as he obviously not given the pod a go for himself. Anti-euthanasia campaigners such as Dr. Gordon Macdonald of Care Not Killing have responded with horror, noting that “(o)rdinary people will be shocked and appalled at Philip Nitschke’s attempt to lobby for the use of his personal gas chamber should Scotland legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia.”