Switzerland approves and legalises new “assisted suicide pod”

@philipnitschke via Twitter

The pod named ‘Sarco’, is a 3D-printed capsule

The assisted death machine, which is shaped like a coffin, can be placed anywhere and is operated from inside – by the person wishing to take their own life.

It was created by former physician Dr. Philip Nitschke, who founded the company Exit International, developers of the ‘Sarco’ pod which is set to launch in 2022 in Switzerland after having successfully passed legal review.

Unlike the current procedural method of assisted death in which the person is prescribed a lethal chemical substance by a doctor which is then administered, the ‘Sacro’ pod does not involve the person having to consult a doctor, there is need of ingesting any liquids or substances. Instead, the device can only be activated from inside, the person has to press a button which fills the inside with nitrogen, reducing the oxygen level quickly and causing a “painless” death.

Dr. Philip Nitschke told Swissinfo: “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 scepticism, 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.”

(pictured) Dr Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International

The act of assisted suicide or euthanasia is something which is not new to Switzerland, as it has been legal since the year 1942. Other countries where it is legal, although usually only under the circumstance that the patient is terminally ill, include the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Canada and most recently, Austria.

While Switzerland is already one of the countries in the world where assisted suicide has been legal for a number of years, the procedure was usually always done by a physician or medical professional after extensive evaluations which decide whether the person has substantial reasoning behind their wish and would therefore be eligible for this to be carried out.

this new ‘pod’ would mean that the patient is completely in control and is therefore performing an act of active euthanasia. In this case it would mean that the patient themselves would have to initiate the process.  Moreover, the pod is equipped with an emergency exit button which of the patients can press at any time, even after they’ve started putting the machine to work and released the toxic gas.

Words: Salma Ahmed

featured image courtesy of @philipnitschke https://twitter.com/philipnitschke/status/1154508751019233280/photo/1

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