The Real Debate on Assisted Suicide

A sarco suicide pod, a futuristic looking purple coffin, sits in the middle of a room on display. People circle around it, looking.
A Sarco prototype at Venice Design in 2019.

Recently, The New York Times wrote about the assisted suicide debate being inflamed by Philip Nitschke’s suicide pod. Besides the disquieting thought of a personalized gas chamber invented by the man who wants to make suicide available to everyone without barriers, the Sarco pod does not actually ignite the debate on assisted suicide. The device gives unassisted suicide access to all. Proponents of assisted suicide laws try to limit who is eligible for medical assistance in killing themselves. But Nitschke calls his fellow proponents’ bluff. Both serve to glamorize suicide against all media guidelines, putting vulnerable people like Shawn Shatto (who was mentioned in The Times article Where the Despairing Log On, and Learn Ways to die) with lived experience of psychiatric diagnosis and disability, at risk of deadly harm. Shawn used a drug cocktail published by proponents to end her own life, she was just 25.

The real debate on assisted suicide is about disability. Assisted suicide laws presume a ‘better off dead than disabled’ premise by only qualifying suicide assistance to people with life-threatening disabilities. Meanwhile, everyone else gets suicide prevention. Assisted suicide laws are ableist, dangerous, and inherently discriminatory.

Read more: 3D Printers and Suicide Contagion

Scroll to Top