Suicide machine from 'Dr. Death' Philip Nitschke draws outrage

A 3D-printed suicide machine designed to aid euthanasia is planned to be made public for the first time at the Amsterdam Funeral Fair. Dubbed the Sacro, the device was created by Dr. Philip Nitschke, a euthanasia activist who's also known as Australia's "Dr. Death". It has been reported that event attendees could actually try the device using virtual reality technology.

Euthanasia campaigner Dr. Philip Nitschke poses for the photographer with his "suicide kit" after a Reuters Interview in London May 7, 2009.REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Plans to demonstrate the euthanasia machine has sparked outrage. According to critics, Nitschke's creation is "gruesome" and it also glamorizes suicide.

The capsule-like machine, which Nitschke developed with Dutch engineer Alex Bannink, works like a gas chamber as nitrogen fills the container once a button is pressed. The person inside the machine would lose consciousness within a minute and die, allegedly without feeling anything, after five minutes.

Nitschke, who has carried out assisted suicides in Australia since the 1990s and founded Exit International, has said he plans to provide an online test to determine if the person intending to use the machine has made his or her choice freely. Some 24 hours following the test, the person would receive a special code to use in the machine.

The doctor claimed that he wanted to offer people a dignified death, which can become a euphoric process. In explaining what Sacro could deliver, Nitschke wrote in a piece: "There's no suffocation, choking sensation or 'air hunger' as the user breathes easily in a low-oxygen environment. The sensation is one of well-being and intoxication."

Visitors at the funeral fair, however, would only be able to experience part of how the machine works. They would be provided virtual reality glasses that allow them to choose to "die" with the sea or the Alps as the background. Dutch politicians, social workers and pro-life activists, however, criticized the planned demonstration at the public event.

"Suicide is not a promotional offer and aiding with suicide is a criminal offence in the Netherlands," MP Kees an der Staaij, a Christian conservative from the Reformed Political Party, told reporters.