Struggling to know what to buy your relatives this Christmas? Do you want to “go out in style”? Then what about a brand-new death pod? These new suicide machines are causing quite a stir and they’ve already been given the green light in Switzerland. Sarco machines — 3D printed capsules — have passed a legal review and can now operate freely in the land of mountains and chocolate. The machine even has a window so you can admire the view one last time before gassing yourself.
Finally you can have the death you want. No needles. No drugs to ingest. No complications. No pain. Just a bit of nitrogen, a decrease of oxygen and you’ll soon lose consciousness before a painless death.
The idea was first introduced by “Dr Death” himself, Dr Philip Nitschke, in the Netherlands, a country which can rightly claim to be the world’s first euthanasia laboratory. Speaking about the new death traps, he said: “The person will lie down inside the capsule, and they will be asked a couple of questions, and after which they will be given time to press the button to activate the process.”
They’d also be a great gift for any murderers you might know
It all takes about a minute. The key benefit is you don’t need a special doctor to kill you. No — these pods mean you can do it all by yourself. You can even take the capsule, much like you would a caravan, to a location of your choosing. So, you can die at your favourite spot, or in the premises of a death clinic like Dignitas or Exit. You must fill in an online form, which is supposed to prove that the decision was entirely your own and you were not forced or pressured into it.
This isn’t Dr Death’s first rodeo. Nitschke is an Australian who, in 1996, became the first doctor in the world to kill a “patient” by legal injection. According to an interview with him published on the Exit International website, he’s less concerned about what causes a desire to end your own life and more with making sure it’s done in a professional manner. In other words, he’s passionate about the mechanics of assisting suicide. No wonder he’s been called the “Elon Musk of assisted suicide”.
Speaking about his suicide pod, he once called it “an elegant gas chamber”, and referred to the contents as “a happily dead body”. He even supports poverty as a legitimate criteria for euthanasia. In one interview he cited the example of a mum who wanted to die because she was consuming too much money by staying alive and she wanted to protect her daughter’s inheritance. In 2012, he started a beer brewing company for the purpose of importing nitrogen canisters. Not only was this good for brewing, but also for ensuring a peaceful and reliable death. Alarmingly he said: “nitrogen was undetectable even by autopsy, which was important to some people.” It doesn’t take a detective to work out who else might prefer that a death is undetected.
These pods are the perfect present for elderly family members, but they’d also be a great gift for any murderers you might know. Tell them to sign-up, drag their victim inside and then trigger the process. I’m sure there are lots of “safeguards” in place. But it wouldn’t be hard to convince some people that they want to die and get them to fill out the form themself. “You wouldn’t want to be a burden would you Gran?” And if they go in willingly, it’s completely foolproof. They can’t detect the pressure you put on them in a post mortem.
If somebody jumps off a bridge, it’s much harder to make money out of it than if they go to Dignitas
If you don’t fancy life any more and can’t afford it for yourself, well-meaning relatives would probably buy you a death pod for Christmas or for your birthday. After all, it’s going to save them thousands on care home fees. The pain of old age can be eliminated. Husbands and wives might like to buy each other a death pod as a 50th anniversary present. They came into the marriage at the same time, why not go out together?
If you’re in favour, it’s important to ignore the concerns of people like Georgetown professor of biomedical ethics Daniel Sulmasy, who, when the suicide pod idea was first introduced a few years ago, said it was “a bad medicine, ethics, and bad public policy”, arguing that it tries to present suicide as a form of healing and ignores the fact that palliative care has become very sophisticated to the point where much suffering can now be alleviated.
If you’re a capitalist, why not celebrate the fact that we are commercialising death? Admittedly some suicides are tragic and should be prevented. For example, if somebody jumps off a bridge, it’s much harder to make money out of it than if they go to Dignitas or use one of these pods.
Joking aside, assisting someone to commit suicide is wrong. It always has been and it should raise a big red flag when we hear people wanting to separate out “good” suicides from “bad” ones. Changing the law will only end up putting more pressure on the most vulnerable in our society. Look at Canada, where the criteria for assisted suicide have been expanded just years after the law was changed or the Netherlands, with its twisted legacy of euthanasia which has been expanded to include children. Give your love ones a better gift this Christmas. Tell them you’ll love them no matter how sick they get, or however much they don’t love themselves.
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