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About Euthanasia

For a report on the work of NuTech:
See Scientific American
Vol. 292, No. 6, June 2005
Scientific American: A Culture of Death

Nutech's work is discussed in the second half of an 'Insights' article by Dianne Martindale.

Good Life Good Death

Self-Deliverance New Technology

NuTech Research Project:

Sodium Nitrite Assessment

Many of our supporters have been asking whether reports worldwide of sodium nitrate being an effective drug in self-deliverance are true. In this NuTech Report, Dr Phillip Nitschke, of NuTech, makes an up-to-date assessment.

(NuTech stands for "New Technology in Self-Deliverance" which was formed in 1990 by Dr Nitschke, the late John Hofsess and Derek Humphry)

The Australian Pig Poison: Euthanasia Holy Grail or another Hollow Promise?


Exit began collecting data of the available and cheap common inorganic salt sodium nitrite when it was first announced in Australia in 2006 that it formed the basis of a new humane lethal agent that could be used to control the rapidly expanding feral pig populations in North Australia, without causing significant mortality in other species or harm to the environment. Its use as a pig toxicant was patented by Australian researchers Brendan Cowled et al in 2008.1

Research into nitrite was prompted in Australia with the withdrawal and banning of two feral pig toxicants (warfarin and yellow phosphorous) due to legitimate animal welfare concerns. The product marketed as 'Hog-Gone' has had successful trials in Australia and has recently been introduced into North America for pig control.2


Sodium nitrate offers a number of features that make it an ideal human euthanasia agent. It is cheap, breaks down readily in the environment. Its mode of action is the reversible oxidation of blood haemoglobin to methemoglobin, making it incapable of transporting oxygen. The loss of oxygen to the brain leads cerebral anoxia and death. Nitrite toxicosis through methemoglobinemia has been assessed as 'humane'.

Normally the level of methemoglobin in red blood cells is kept at a low level by the enzyme methemoglobin reductase that reduces the methemoglobin back to haemoglobin. For the ingestion of nitrite to lead to death the amount taken and the absorbtion into the blood stream must be at such a rate that the reductase enzyme is overwhelmed, and the haemoglobin level kept low till death occurs.

Current situation

The collapse of the Chinese pentobarbital market in 2017 has prompted a re-examination of nitrite.

Clearly availability and legality are attractive characteristics. Simple storage and administration are also desirable properties, as is the ability to significantly increase the toxic properties of the salt by simple (available) supplements.

Concerns persist though about adverse symptoms and reliability. The use of nitrite in pig populations has been explained by the low level of methemoglobin reductase in pigs. This enzyme level is higher in humans making them (theoretically) less susceptible.

It is also noted that there is available treatment that can reverse nitrite methemoglobinemia.

In Summary

The jury is still out about the future potential of this simple salt as a back-up, or even possible replacement of the gold standard euthanasia drug, sodium pentobarbital.

The NuTech Research Project

Exit is actively collecting reports on the use of nitrate, both in the medical literature and as anecdotes. We hope to have this collated and summarised in time for a more definitive presentation at NuTech Cape Town. To this end we invite all those supportive of NuTech goals to forward any information they have on the use and future of this ubiquitous salt.

Exit is providing the necessary funds for this research.

Perhaps this holy grail has been sitting under our noses for years!

For more information, or to contribute to the NuTech nitrite research project contact:

nutech AT protonmail DOT com or +31 6 30 966 992

Philip Nitschke
Exit Research Coordinator
April 2, 2018


1.Cowled, B.D., S.J. Lapidge, S. Humphrys and L. Staples. 2008b. Nitrite salts as poisons in baits for omnivores. International patent WO/2008/104028


NuTech Report

Obtaining drugs via the internet and using helium hood kits

A 2014 appraisal of self-directed dying

By Derek Humphry

This September, as part of the world euthanasia conference in Chicago, we shall be making a fresh appraisal of non-doctor ways in which a terminal or hopelessly ill person can choose to end their life.

This review will be by NuTech (New Technology in Self-Deliverance) in an all-day session of international experts and experienced guides. Crucially, the meeting will be looking for persons with new backgrounds and ideas on choice in dying. NuTech is an informal group started in 1997 by John Hofsess, Dr. Philip Nitschke and myself to find ways in which a competent adult could safely exit which were lawful and did not involve doctors. It has no finances or constitution. NuTech’s leaders today are Faye Girsh ( and myself (

Its first born was the helium hood technique for ending life using a party balloon kit, an oven plastic bag and vinyl tubing. The technique – often called ‘exit bags’ – became widely known in 2002 in the 3rd edition of Final Exit. It has since been used for self-deliverance by several hundred people, even in the Netherlands at times when legal physician-assisted suicide is not available. Absent lethal drugs, it is the system recommended by the Final Exit Network ( – successor to the Hemlock Society.

Since NuTech’s beginnings, the growth of the internet has been enormous, giving rise to huge sales of all types of drugs from international destinations, notably Mexico, Russia and China. Unfortunately, some sources which supply lethal drugs have involved fraud, dubious quality and rampant over-charging. The fraud is not confined to Nembutal and Seconal which are widely used in right to die cases – hospitals worldwide are finding that many types of drugs are counterfeit, low toxicity or even blank. Sometimes the label is counterfeit.

NuTech needs to nail down which sources are reliable for lethal barbiturates like Nembutal and Seconal and which not.

There is evidence that the idea of the helium hood way of dying is appealing to many people around the world as a form of non-violent euthanasia. It has its pros and cons. When the late Sharlotte Hydorn of GLADD was stopped in 2011 by the FBI from manufacturing the ready-made kits, in response I immediately wrote a guide pamphlet on how to make your own. (Sharlotte had barely been able to cope with demand.) ERGO has since sold 2,300 downloaded copies worldwide of the “How to make your own helium hood kit” DIY booklet on its internet bookstore ( And we've distributed hundreds more in an addendum to the paperback Final Exit.


From this evidence, there is a big desire for an improved ready-made kit – but probably the FBI would again close any maker down. Even if the kits were coming from abroad, law enforcement might intercept them. Oregon in 2011 passed a law banning their sale.

Some people express a preference for a mask/hood/tent versus using a plastic bag. NuTech has so far found that alternatives to the plastic bag (or turkey bag), such as surgical masks, either leaked or diluted the inert gas, causing failure. To be lethal, the helium inhaled must be pure. But research might demonstrate new and infallible ways.

NuTech and other people who consider self-directed dying vital need now to capitalize on a decade of experience and produce fresh ideas.

If interested in this exploration, the NuTech meeting in Chicago is on Saturday, September 20, on the final day of the 2014 world right-to-die conference. To register for the whole conference, or register just for NuTech Saturday, visit

Contact with ideas at


New methods of self-deliverance under investigation. ERGO web page.

Robbing Death of Its Sting, Chapter 6 of In Search of Gentle Death by Richard M Cote. (Corinthian Books and Kindle 2012).

A Speedier Way: Inert Gases, Chapter 23 of Final Exit, 3rd edition, by Derek Humphry (Dell paperback and Kindle 2010).

New Technology, Chapter 18 of Good Life, Good Death by Derek Humphry (Norris Lane Press and Kindle 2009).

Suicide by Oxygen Deprivation with Helium: A Preliminary Study of British Columbia Coroner Investigations. Russel Ogden and Shereen Hassan. Death Studies Volume 35, Issue 4, 2011.

© 2014 Derek Humphry

NuTech Report

New methods of self-deliverance under investigation

By Derek Humphry

Twenty of the world's experts on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide met in Seattle, USA, the weekend of January 10-11, 2004, to explore methods of hastened death that dying persons could use to 'self-deliver' without breaking the law or with help from a physician.

Representatives came from the Netherlands, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, and America, meeting under the auspices of the New Technology for Self-Deliverance Group (NuTech), founded in 1999. The Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (ERGO) was the host.

While Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the US state of Oregon each have some type of lawful hastened death, the rest of the world seems paralyzed on law reform. And even in the four places where it is permitted, there are sometimes adults who do not qualify under the law but their illness still justifies -- to them -- bringing life to an end. Therefore NuTech's mission is to find alternatives for self-deliverance that can be used by competent adults to escape the misery of protracted and hopeless suffering.

So far the group's chief success has been the development of a helium gas and plastic bag method of self-deliverance that has already been used by hundreds of people for a peaceful, quick death in minutes. It is described in the paperback 'Final Exit' 3rd edition. "There are no failures provided the equipment is set up properly," one doctor told the Seattle meeting.

Dr. Philip Nitschke in Australia has developed what he calls the 'CO Genie' -- an apparatus that turns out lethal carbon monoxide that can be made at home. This method has not yet been used by any person. At workshops throughout the country, under Dr. Nitschke's supervision, lay people have been practicing constructing the 'CO Genie'. Plans for this will be revealed later this year.

Dutch doctors revealed that a new, small organization has been set up in their country called the Dutch Society for Scientific Self-Deliverance With Care (WOZZ). It has published (in Dutch) a small book spelling out the latest types of drugs and their dosages with information gleaned from research in the last four years.

They reported that over the last ten years, since the Netherlands has been gathering euthanasia data, there had been no increase in doctor-assisted deaths.

Between three and four percent of all deaths in that country are doctor-assisted in some way. But there is, they said, a constant need to know which drugs are best and in what quantity.

Self-deliverance in the Netherlands with inert gases was not popular because of memories of the Nazi Holocaust. Anyway, as euthanasia is lawful under legal guidelines, carefully selected drugs could be used successfully.

The meeting was concerned to hear that a total of five different criminal cases were now outstanding in the world where people have been charged - or about to be - with assisted suicide or attempted murder. These cases are in Canada, New Zealand, France, Ireland and the Isle of Man. More info on this at

NuTech wound up its meeting with discussions on how badly-needed finance could be raised for more scientific research into methods of hastened death which were within the bounds of societal and legal acceptance.

The NuTech group needs funding for its research and liason. If you would like to contribute go to ERGO's Donation/Contribution page and at the same time be sure to Join ERGO.

For more info about ERGO please visit the "About ERGO" webpages.