Visitors at an Amsterdam funeral show Saturday were able to don virtual reality glasses and see their own suicide by nitrogen gas—all to imagine a new way of dying, the Guardian reports. Inventors Alexander Bannink and Philip Nitschke were there to show off a model of their "Sarco," a 3D-printed euthanasia pod replete with detachable coffin, and VR glasses to imagine using it. "The person who wants to die presses the button and the capsule is filled with nitrogen," says Nitschke, an Australian euthanasia activist. "He or she will feel a bit dizzy but will then rapidly lose consciousness and die." He says the goal is "to provide people with a death when they wish to die." The Sarco (short for sarcophagus) is another step in Nitschke's long journey to make suicide widely available, Newsweek reports.
His earlier devices include a laptop-connected IV system that dispensed lethal barbituates into the bloodstream (it was used four times in Australia when euthanasia was briefly legal there) and the "exit bag" breathing mask that released carbon monoxide (it never caught on). With the Sarco, users who pass an online mental-health test could fill the capsule with liquid nitrogen and lower the oxygen level to roughly 5% for a peaceful death. Due out later this year, the device comes at a time when euthanasia is legal in some US states and European countries and suicide is legal in many countries, Stuff (NZ) notes. A critic says the Sarco is unethical and overlooks advances in palliative care, but Nitschke considers suicide a basic right for people healthy or ill. It's the "right of a rational adult to have a peaceful death," he says. "Every person over the age of 70 should be able to die." (One couple died in double euthanasia after 65 years of marriage.)