Suicide pod where death takes ’30 seconds’ to be rolled out in Switzerland

A 3D-printed suicide capsule pod that takes “30 seconds” to kill someone has been approved for use in Switzerland.

The machine, known as Sarco, can now be legally operated in the European country to assist those looking to end their life.

Philip Nitschke, founder of pro-euthanasia group Exit International, developed the machine and insist the death is both panic free and “no choking feeling”.

The capsule works from inside the capsule by the person intending to die and can be towed to anywhere the person chooses to die.

It is believed the Sarco machine offers those wanting to die to have their final moments in an outdoor setting as opposed to an assisted suicide facility.

The person who is looking to die will be evaluated through questions before they can pass away using the machine.

Once all are answered, the person is then allowed to press the button in their own time.

Usually patients who are looking to die would see a doctor administer liquid sodium pentobarbital, making them fall asleep into a coma before eventually passing away.

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However, Nitschke's machine floods the capsule with nitrogen to reduce the oxygen level.

Speaking to swissinfo.ch, Nitschke said: “The capsule is sitting on a piece of equipment that will flood the interior with nitrogen, rapidly reducing the oxygen level to 1% from 21% 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.”

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Now the machine has been approved, Nitschke hopes that Sarco will take medical elements out of dying and give the person more control, which is why the button is designed to be inside the capsule pod.

There are only two Sarco prototypes in existence but a third machine is now being printed in the Netherlands, which is where Nitschke is based.

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One machine is currently in the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel, Germany, until August 2022 but the second was not deemed “aesthetically pleasing” to use.

The third Sarco machine could be ready for its first use in Switzerland next year.

Speaking about the future of how Sarco will be used and how those will be assessed, Nitschke said: “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.”

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