Here’s something to keep in mind the next time you go to the county fair: about two people a year die on roller coasters. And those fried Twinkies probably aren’t much good for you, either.
But getting back to the roller coasters, a Lithuanian engineer named Julijonas Urbonas believes he has the answer to accidental roller coaster deaths. He has designed a roller coaster that kills you intentionally.
Urbonas’ coaster, which would be the world’s tallest, takes you through a series of extreme drops and loops that create euphoria and then kill you by starving your brain of oxygen. Really.
He calls it the Euthanasia Coaster, and he thinks that it would a more humane way to commit suicide. Well, it’s certainly more painless than constructing a giant Vitamix®, getting inside, and setting it to “chop.”.
According to an article by Laura Secorun Palet, here’s how the Euthanasia Coaster would work:
“First the rider would face a long, slow climb up to more than 500 meters, giving him or her a few minutes to think back on life and contemplate the decision. At the top, there would be time to say a prayer or blow a kiss to relatives (or bail) before pressing the “fall” button and plummeting into the long steep plunge followed by the first 360-degree loop. That’s where most riders would die. According to Urbonas, traveling at 100 meters per second, the person would experience a G-force-induced loss of consciousness due to cerebral hypoxia (lack of oxygen reaching the brain), which often causes a sense of euphoria. Just in case that first one didn’t do it, six more consecutive loops would finish the job.”
Now, regular readers of this blog know that I am a proponent of making suicide more easily available for people who are sane but, for any number of reasons (unrelenting pain, onset of dementia, extreme poverty, too many episodes of Ray Donovan, etc.) want to make a conscious decision about when to go. So the idea of ending this thrill ride of life with a thrill ride of death seems very attractive.
But I have some questions:
- In order to kill yourself this way, do you have to be at least 48 inches tall?
- Do they bother to have that bar come down on your lap?
- On the way down, is it appropriate to put your arms in the air and go “WHEE!”
- Do you still get one of those souvenir photos?
- Does the amusement park have to hire counselors to put you on the ride and morticians to help you off?
- In case you survive the initial drop and the seven loops, could we add a log flume pool to drown you?
- While it’s nice that they have a button at the top so that you have to take action in order to die, what if you do change your mind once you get up there? You’re roughly 170 feet higher than the Empire State Building (including the antenna), so how the hell are you supposed to get down? It would be a shame, wouldn’t it, to look out at the spectacular view from 1620 feet, decide that life is worth living after all, and then have a heart attack while descending the roughly 2,400 steps to the ground.
I should point out that Six Flags and Disney are not exactly in a bidding war to build this thing. But, according to the article, even right-to-die advocates are against it. It quotes Derek Humphry, president of the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (motto: “Bye bye!”) as saying, “Such a machine has nothing to do with true euthanasia. A good death is at home, with family, and a doctor present to relieve pain.”
Oh, come on, Derek! You’re such a killjoy (so to speak)! What’s the matter with having a little fun while you die?
For his part, Urbonas says he designed his coaster as a work of art to provide food for thought rather than a railway to heaven. However he is more than willing to provide his plans for free should anyone want to build it. And that would be great, because there’d finally be a thrill ride without a 45-minute line. Unless they change the name to something like The Exterminator, or Hangman, or Kamikazee.* Then everybody would want to go on, and you’d have to buy one of those “All Access” tickets so you could go to the front of the line while sticking your tongue out at all the cretins who will have to live a bit longer.
Anyway, the Fatal Flyer wouldn’t be for me. Roller coasters scare me. You’ll find me on the Terminal Tilt-a-Whirl.
*Actually, those names are already taken, respectively by Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, PA (home, I imagine, to the West Mifflin Paper Company); Wild Adventures in Valdosta, GA; and Dinosaur Beach in Wildwood, NJ (although that ride has been relocated to Six Flags over Georgia and renamed Ninja).