Jack Kevorkian died this morning in a Detroit hospital at the age of 83. In the 1990s, he assisted with more than 100 suicides from the back of his converted VW Vanagon. The Atlantic discusses the tools he used to end lives.
Kevorkian employed two suicide machines, dubbed Thanatron and Mercitron. Thanatron administered a sixty second IV drip of thiopental when the patient activated it, causing them to slip nearly immediately into a coma. The Thanatron would then administer a lethal dose of potassium chloride to stop the heart (Potassium chloride is the same concoction used in state-administered lethal injections).
Mercitron used Carbon Monoxide, stored in a cylinder in the rear of the van, to kill. The patient would be outfitted with a mask that covered the nose and mouth. After turning a handle, the system activated and slowly asphyxiated them (a process that sometimes took up to 10 minutes). [via The Atlantic]