In the future, the inventor of 3D printed suicide capsules will create an implant in the body that could be fatal for those with dementia.

Australian euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke, also known as ‘Dr Death’, is a former physician and head of the voluntary euthanasia campaign Exit International. 

With his coffin-like Sarco Suicide pods, he has already been controversial. These pods can be taken to “idyllic” locations to allow people to end life.

By pressing one button on the 3D-printed pods, users can control them from inside. The nitrogen floods their bodies and kills them within minutes. 

Now, Dr Nitschke has shared his concept for small but lethal implants, which people could choose to have inserted into their bodies in case they develop dementia.

To prevent poison from being given, the user would need to press the button “regularly”, maybe twice a day like in Black Mirror. 

They would lose the ability to push the button if they were diagnosed with dementia. The poison would then be administered and their lives would end. 

Apart from the concerns about assisted dying, this concept can prove fatal if someone without dementia forgets to push their button.  

Australian euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke (pictured), also known as 'Dr Death', is a former physician and head of the voluntary euthanasia campaign Exit International. The campaigner had his medical licence suspended in 2014 for supporting Perth man Nigel Brayley, 45, in taking his own life with the deadly drug Nembutal

Philip Nitschke, also known as “Dr Death”, is an Australian physician who was once the head of Exit International’s voluntary euthanasia campaign. In 2014, the campaigner was suspended from his medical license for his support of Nigel Brayley (45) in his suicide attempt with deadly Nembutal.

A picture of the Sarco Suicide Pod, which can be operated internally and works by reducing oxygen levels

The Sarco Suicide pod, which is internal and can be controlled internally, shows how it reduces oxygen levels.


For now, Dr Nitschke’s deadly implants are just a thought.

These could also be used by individuals who do not have any type of dementia.

To prevent the administration of a fatal dose, users would need to keep pressing the button “regularly”, maybe once per day.  

They would lose the ability to push the button if they were diagnosed with dementia. The poison would then be administered and their lives would end. 

The people who would choose to have the implants could be perfectly healthy and younger than the age dementia conditions typically set in – around 65 (although dementia also affects people in their 30s, 40s, or 50s). 

‘When a person has dementia, they can nowadays quite legally in some places fill out a bit of paper 10 years ago, when they are of sound mind, saying “if I get like this, kill me”,’ Dr Nitschke told The Independent. 

‘Now, 10 years later, a doctor can come along, read the bit of paper, and even though you don’t know which way is up or down, legally give you an injection and end your life. This makes many people uncomfortable and makes me uncomfortable.

‘So what we’re working on here is some sort of an implant which you have to switch off every day. When you’ve forgotten why you’re switching something off that’s beeping, then you will die.

“That places the responsibility back on the individual and allows them get what they want. That is, they don’t want to be a vegetable. No one wants to end their life.

Dr Philip Nitschke's prototype 'Sarco' euthanasia pod is seen here being transported in Venice

This is the prototype of Dr Philip Nitschke’s euthanasia pod ‘Sarco’. It’s being taken to Venice.

The Sarco pods can be operated from the inside by its user and work by reducing internal oxygen levels

Sarco pods are able to be controlled from within by the user. They work by decreasing internal oxygen levels.


The umbrella term dementia is used to define a set of symptoms that are marked by behavioral changes, gradually declining cognitive and/or social abilities.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most prevalent form of dementia. But, other types include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body dementia. 

An abnormal buildup of proteins within and around brain cells may be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Alzheimer’s Research UK predicts that one million Americans will develop dementia in 2025. This number is expected to rise to two million by 2050, according to the organization.  

When Dr Nitschke was asked how the device would guard against forgetfulness, Dr Nitschke replied that it might beep for “a few days” before activating. This is to make sure the dementia has progressed sufficiently.

Dr Nitschke has shared the concept merely weeks after his Sarco Suicide Pods were legalised for use in Switzerland.  

Since 1942 assisted suicide has been allowed in Switzerland. In 2020, around 1300 people used the services of euthanasia organizations. 

A pill is used to assist suicide in Switzerland. It causes a person to go into deep coma and then they are able die. 

This is a problem because people with advanced dementia may not be able to choose to consume such a capsule. This would be possible with the help of the lethal implant. received the first lethal injection by voluntary consent in 1996 from Dr Nitschke. He said that Sarco Suicide Pods are able to be ‘towed anyplace for death’.  

Alexander Bannick, a Dutch engineer, helped him develop the machines in order to make them available around the world.

Instead of looking for a “dignified” death, Dr Nitschke suggests it might be a “euphoric” experience. 

“What if we were to believe that our final day on the planet could also be our most thrilling? He wrote the following in an article for Huffington Post.

Dr Nitschke explained that the item can be taken wherever the user chooses, such as facing the Rockies, or out to the Pacific Ocean.

In 2014, Dr Nitschke lost his medical license after he supported Nigel Brayley in his suicide attempt with Nembutal.     

Brayley’s involvement led to Dr Nitschke being de-registered at the Medical Board of Australia that year. 

After a lengthy legal battle in the NSW Supreme Court, he was granted his licence again in June 2015, but he said he was now ‘too flat out’ with another one of his interests – stand-up comedy – to practice medicine. 


Around 78 percent makes up ‘normal air’.

About 20% is made up of oxygen, which is the vital element for our lives.

It can prove fatal if the oxygen level falls below 10 percent.   

Through the poisonous, tasteless, and colourless nitrogen gas, a process called “nitrogen asphyxiation” can cause death. 

It is impossible to detect the gas through our senses. Therefore, it’s unlikely that you will feel anything. 

Campaigners have argued that it’s possible use as capital punishment. 

They argue that  there is not sufficiently strong evidence to prove the safety and legality of the new process.

The campaigners warn that there are many problems when the state attempts to end involuntarily someone’s life.

Normally, people who are suffocated feel extreme pain due to carbon dioxide building up in their bloodstream.

This buildup of CO2 is not caused by nitrogen gas, so discomfort should precede death.

To perform nitrogen asphyxiation as capital punishment, the condemned would be sealed in an airtight chamber pumped full of the gas.

The lack of oxygen would lead to a painful death. 

Accidentally, people do sometimes die from nitrogen asphyxiation.

Even mild euphoria may be possible with nitrogen gas death. 

For instance, deep-sea divers exposed to too much nitrogen develop a narcosis  known as ‘raptures of the deep,’ which feels similar to being drunk.