Tech­knowage 3-D print sui­cide pod

Eu­thana­sia ac­tivist aims to have a fully-func­tion­ing sui­cide ma­chine by the end of the year

The New Age (Gauteng) - - BUSINESS -

Acon­tro­ver­sial sui­cide pod that en­ables its oc­cu­pant to kill them­selves at a press of a but­ton went on dis­play at the re­cent Am­s­ter­dam fu­neral show.

Called the Sarco, short for sar­coph­a­gus, the 3D-printed ma­chine in­vented by Aus­tralian eu­thana­sia ac­tivist Philip Nitschke and Dutch de­signer Alexan­der Ban­nink comes with a de­tach­able cof­fin, mounted on a stand that con­tains a nitro­gen can­is­ter.

“The per­son who wants to die presses the but­ton and the cap­sule is filled with nitro­gen. He or she will feel a bit dizzy but will then rapidly lose con­scious­ness and die,” Nitschke, who has been dubbed “Dr Death” for his work to le­galise eu­thana­sia, said.

The Sarco is a de­vice “to pro­vide peo­ple with a death when they wish to die”, Nitschke said.

The in­ven­tors put a model of the de­vice on dis­play, to­gether with a set of vir­tual re­al­ity glasses to give vis­i­tors a true to life ex­pe­ri­ence of what it would be like to sit in the pod, be­fore ul­ti­mately press­ing the but­ton.

Nitschke said he aimed to build the first fully­func­tion­ing pod be­fore the end of the year. Af­ter that, the de­sign will be put on­line as an open source doc­u­ment for peo­ple to down­load.

“That means that any­body who wants to build the ma­chine can down­load the plans and 3D-print their own de­vice,” Nitschke said.

Asked about the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing eu­thana­sia and le­gal hur­dles, Nitschke said: “In many coun­tries sui­cide is not against the law, only as­sist­ing a per­son to com­mit sui­cide is.”

“This is a sit­u­a­tion where one per­son chooses to press a but­ton... rather than for in­stance stand­ing in front of a train.

“I be­lieve it’s a fun­da­men­tal hu­man right to choose when to die. It’s not just some med­i­cal priv­i­lege for the very sick.

“If you’ve got the pre­cious gift of life, you should be able to give that gift away at the time of your choos­ing.”

Thou­sands of vis­i­tors flocked to the an­nual Am­s­ter­dam Fu­neral Expo at the city’s fa­mous Westerk­erk, where all the lat­est trends in death, such as biodegrad­able coffins and a hot­rod fu­neral hearse were on dis­play.

But the Sarco drew large crowds, many of them mor­bidly cu­ri­ous to try out the de­vice’s chair and vir­tual re­al­ity glasses.

“It was re­ally an ex­pe­ri­ence and a strange thing to see. But very pretty and calm. You see the moon, you see the sea. It’s very calm,” Piet Ver­straaten, 52, from the eastern Dutch city of Ven­ray, said.

Oth­ers, how­ever, were not im­pressed. “Well, I think it’s quite silly. It’s stupid. I don’t get it. I’m not in­ter­ested in a real Sarco. No,” 52-year-old Rob Bruntink said. – Re­laxnews

PIC­TURE: AFP

LAST GLIMPSE OF EARTH: A man ex­pe­ri­ences the inside of the Sarco (sar­coph­a­gus) sui­cide de­vice through vir­tual re­al­ity glasses at the Am­s­ter­dam Fu­neral Expo at the week­end.

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