Design and Violence

THANATRON

Jack Kevorkian

DIY euthanasia

This simple device is designed to administer a series of chemicals to an individual to allow them to painlessly commit suicide. It was developed by Jack Kevorkian — so-called ‘Dr Death’ — an American medical doctor who was an advocate for the right to die. Putting the user in charge of their own euthanasia, it attempts to avoid the legal consequences that can face people who assist others to commit suicide. Debates around euthanasia are increasing in intensity around the world, with campaigners arguing to allow people to legally choose the timing and manner of their own death, especially in the case of severe pain and terminal illness. This device bypasses legal systems and legislation, making it what designer and academic Anthony Dunne calls a ‘parafunctional device’, whose aim lies not just in what it does for the user, but in the way it challenges legal and social mores and provokes change.