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Switzerland legalises Sarco Pod – The 3D Printed Suicide Capsule

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3D Printed Suicide Pod
Above: Sarco Pod developed by Exit International/Image Source: Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC)

Exit International, an international non-profit organization advocating legalisation of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, developed Sarco Pod, a 3D printed suicide capsule. The Sarco pod has passed the legal review in Switzerland and may be allowed to legally operate in the country.

Switzerland has legalised assisted suicide since 1942. The common method used was ingesting a capsule that makes a person sleep within 2-5 minutes before slipping into deep coma. This is followed by death afterwards. According to estimates, around 1300 people died by assisted suicide in Switzerland in 2020 using services of euthanasia organisations Dignitas and Exit (unrelated to Exit International).

Sarco Pod – 3D Printed Suicide Capsule

Sarco Pod
Above: Exit International’s 3D printed suicide pod can be towed to any location of choice/Image Source: Exit International

The 3D printed suicide capsule has been developed by Exit International and is specifically designed to assist people in suicide. It can be operated by the person lying inside. The pod can be towed anywhere for the death. It can be in an idyllic outdoor setting or in the premises of an assisted suicide organisation.

The general procedure for a person requesting assistance in suicide through Sarco Pod, is to take a survey to establish that the decision to end their life is theirs alone. They will then be required to answer pre-recorded questions and press a button to begin the process.

After the formalities conclude, the person inside can commence the process wherein the oxygen inside the pod is reduced. According to The Independent, the  process takes less than a minute and death occurs through hypoxia and hypocapnia, which is intended to allow a person to die relatively peacefully and painlessly.

“Among the key features of the pod is that it can be transported to an “idyllic outdoor setting”. “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.”

– Dr. Philip Nitschke, an euthanasia activist and Exit International founder

Dr Nitschke told The Independent in a 2018 Interview, “The Sarco pods, however, have faced criticism. Gas may never be an acceptable method for assisted suicide in Europe due to the negative connotations of the Holocaust. Some have even said that it’s just a glorified gas chamber.”

Two Sarco pod prototypes currently exist, but Exit International is 3D printing a third machine that it hopes to be ready for operation in Switzerland next year.


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