Switzerland legalises suicide machine

Switzerland 'suicide pod' passes legal review, to be operational by next year

The Sarco pod uses nitrogen to induce death, as opposed to the use of controlled substances

The Sarco pod. Credit: Exit International

A 3D-printed 'suicide pod', which aims to simplify the process of assisted suicides, has passed legal review in Switzerland.

Called the "Sarco pod", it is expected to be ready for operation next year, and is developed by Australia-based international nonprofit Exit International.

Around 1,300 people died by assisted suicide in Switzerland in 2020 using the services of the country’s two largest assisted suicide organisations, Exit and Dignitas, according to a report by SwissInfo.

The method currently in use is ingestion of liquid sodium pentobarbital, a controlled substance, which causes a person to slip into a deep coma before dying. The Sarco pod, the report says, can do it without the use of controlled substances.

"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," Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International told the publication.

"There are two Sarco prototypes in existence so far, and the third Sarco is now being printed in the Netherlands. If all goes well, the third machine should be ready for operation in Switzerland in 2022," he said.

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