Controversial euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke will return to Lismore on February 3 to run a DIY suicide workshop for the elderly.
Dr Nitschke, who is critical of Victoria’s new highly regulated euthanasia laws, will also be introducing plans for his new ‘deliverance machine’ that he has dubbed Sarco.
Exit International’s legal director, Tasha Russell, told Echonetdaily that the machine, which will be available next year, could be downloaded and 3D printed by anyone but a code that would enable its use would be restricted to mentally sound individuals over the age of 50.
The machine, which doubles as a coffin, would seal the user inside and release nitrogen gas on their voice command.
Over a period of about five minutes he nitrogen displaces the oxygen in the capsule, leading to loss of consciousness and death.
Ms Russell said that Dr Nitschke’s view was that ‘any adult of sound mind should be legally allowed to take their own life if they wished to do so’.
Exit considered the Victorian law ‘very restrictive’, she said.
‘It doesn’t allow very many people to use it. There are restrictions that limit it to people who have only six months to live. All of the process to get your approval at the end of your life when you are actually suffering.
‘A very big majority of our members are not actually terminally ill people. They might be seriously ill people who are suffering quite badly but [their condition] might continue for 40 or 50 years. These people won’t get any help.
‘But we also have a lot of people who are getting old. There are things starting to go wrong. They might have Parkinsons or Alzheimers. Alzheimers people won’t be able to be helped under the Victorian law.’
Ms Russell said Exit’s information is only distributed to those over 50 years of age, ‘and we do require ID from people to make sure that they are over that age’.
She added that while Exit didn’t have a benchmark of what constitutes seriously ill, Dr Nitschke ‘knows illnesses and we talk to him about whether he thinks it a serious illness.’
‘We do take it very much on a case-by-case basis,’ she said, ‘because there are so many different illnesses.
Ms Russell said the issue of an elective death as a fundamental right of the elderly – for whatever reason, rather than simply being seen as a medical procedure for the terminally ill – was a change that was gaining strength across the world.
Those attending the Lismore workshop will be given the most recent information on the newest end of life strategies and options. And they will leave knowing the best and most reliable ways of ending their lives at the time of their choosing.
‘Those attending will hope they never need to use this information, but will leave the workshop comforted in the knowledge that if they have to end their lives they now know the best ways to put their own plans into place, without someone telling them whether they are suffering enough,’ Ms Russell said.
Dr Nitschke’s Exit International meeting will take place on February 3, 1-4pm at the Lismore Workers Club, 231 Keen St, Lismore.