Australian doctor Philip Nitschke has announced that 3-d printed devices that are being coined “euthanasia pods” — a coffin-like device that makes assisted suicide accessible for nearly anybody and without medical intervention — will soon be available in Switzerland. Nitschke has said his purpose for making the devices is so that anybody can commit suicide with little medical assistance.
Insider reported Monday morning that Swiss outlet Swiss Info announced that “‘Sarco’ machines — 3D-printed capsules designed for use in assisted suicide — have passed a legal review and can now operate in Switzerland.”
“Prototyped in the Netherlands by Dr. Philip Nitschke, the coffin-like Sarco capsule should be ready for operation in Switzerland in 2022, he told the outlet,” Insider added. “While the Swiss assisted-dying sector’s approach requires the ingestion of liquid sodium pentobarbital, Sarco can provide a peaceful death without using controlled substances.”
Nitschke gave eerie details to Swiss media as to how exactly it will work:
It’s a 3-D printed capsule, activated from the inside by the person intending to die. The machine can be towed anywhere for the death. It can be in an idyllic outdoor setting or in the premises of an assisted suicide organisation, for example.
“The person will get into the capsule and lie down. It’s very comfortable. They will be asked a number of questions and when they have answered, they may press the button inside the capsule activating the mechanism in their own time.
“The capsule is sitting on a piece of equipment that will flood the interior with nitrogen, rapidly reducing the oxygen level to 1 per cent from 21 per cent in about 30 seconds. The person will feel a little disoriented and may feel slightly euphoric before they lose consciousness. Death takes place through hypoxia and hypocapnia, oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation, respectively. There is no panic, no choking feeling. [In an environment where the oxygen is less than 1 per cent, after losing consciousness death would occur after approximately 5-10 minutes, according to Philip Nitschke.]
Nitschke also told media that his goal is to remove the need for psychiatric evaluation so that anybody can kill themselves without requiring a doctor:
Currently a doctor or doctors need to be involved to prescribe the sodium pentobarbital and to confirm the person’s mental capacity. We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves.
“Our aim is to develop an artificial intelligence screening system to establish the person’s mental capacity. Naturally there is a lot of skepticism, especially on the part of psychiatrists. But our original conceptual idea is that the person would do an online test and receive a code to access the Sarco.
“It’s utopian. It’s brave new world stuff, previously unthought of,” one woman said in a promotional video for the pods.
“When I first heard about the Sarco, I got very excited because it seemed like such a wacky idea. And then I thought about it, and I thought you know this is actually what I’ve been thinking about a lot,” another woman said.
The machines will be available in Switzerland starting sometime in 2022. It is legal for anyone above the age of 12 to be euthanized in Switzerland, but those under 16 need parental permission.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free hotline for individuals in crisis or distress or for those looking to help someone else. It is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.