"Do It Yourself" Suicide Machines Unveiled in Australia

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 8, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

"Do It Yourself" Suicide Machines Unveiled in Australia

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
October 8, 2003

Queensland, Australia (LifeNews.com) — In an effort to increase the availability of suicide options, euthanasia advocates in Australia unveiled do-it-yourself death machines recently.

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Queensland held a workshop on Monday to teach people to construct the machines. All 10 of the attendees said they didn’t plan to ever use them.

The suicide machines, made from plastic containers, cost between $15 and $20 for materials, and can be assembled in about half an hour. They deliver a lethal amount of Carbon Monoxide (CO) through plastic tubing to the nose – all one has to do is hook up the machine, lie down and go to sleep.

The group’s president, John Todd, stated that the machines were part of a campaign to force governments to seriously consider euthanasia legislation.

"We realize that this is a very serious step we are taking," Todd said. "We find ourselves in a situation where the government is not prepared to take steps to give us decent voluntary euthanasia legislation." 

This is not the first time pro-euthanasia groups have pushed openly for public and legal acceptance of suicide in Australia.

Philip Nitschke, director of EXIT Australia, has promoted a similar carbon-monoxide killing machine, called COGen (Carbon Monoxide Genreator), and has revealed it to the public "for the first time" on several occasions, according to Mary Joseph of the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations.

The Australian "Dr. Death," as he has been referred to by Australian media sources, has also made a "suicide bag" available to members of his organization, called veterinarians who give humans life-ending medications "courageous," and has announced plans to develop a "suicide pill" that he feels should be made available to all members of society – even teenagers.

"I think it should be available to teenagers. What I’m saying is, that teenagers are likely to get access to it. I mean, I think if we accept the fact suicide is legal and at a certain stage you become an adult in this society, at that stage we also accept that you can suicide," Nitscheke said during an interview August 10, 2001 with the ABC Radio AM Program.

In January of this year, Nitscheke had a prototype of his COGen machine confiscated at Sydney Airport, as he was about to depart for a conference in San Diego. Australian law currently prohibits the import or export of suicide related products. Nitscheke has announced that he will challenge the legislation.

The US-based Hemlock Society, now called End-of-Life Choices, had provided $20,000 to Nitscheke to develop his COGen machine.

"Euthanasia advocates are seeking to skirt the law by encouraging the cultural acceptance of suicide," Brian Johnston, author of "Death as a Salesman: What’s Wrong with Assisted Suicide," told LifeNews.com. "The public safety is at risk and legislators can and should act to quell such encouragement, just as the law can and does punish those who provoke a man on a ledge to ‘Jump!’"

"In addition to the tragic loss of these individuals there is an even greater threat that reaches throughout the culture," Johnston added. "The message this sends to the emotionally vulnerable: the depressed, the medically dependent, or anyone who may not see themselves as ‘valued,’ is that death is a culturally approved answer to their problems."

Johnston said the list of those other than the terminally ill that might use the machines "leads ultimately into our own homes."