Switzerland has legalized the use of a novel but controversial contraption designed for assisted suicide.
Developed by Dr. Philip Nitschke, the founder of Exit International (a non-profit organization that advocates for voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide) who has earned the arguably appropriate nickname of “Dr. Death,” the Sarco is a 3D-printed suicide capsule with a futuristic design that purportedly kills its occupants painlessly through the use of nitrogen. One of the more unique aspects of the high-tech tomb is that users who lack mobility can still be in full control of the process; the Sarco can be activated merely by blinking.
Nitschke reiterated how the device worked in an interview with swissinfo.ch over the weekend:
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. The person will feel a little disoriented and may feel slightly euphoric before they lose consciousness. The whole thing takes about 30 seconds. Death takes place through hypoxia and hypocapnia, oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation, respectively. There is no panic, no choking feeling.
Controversy over the Sarco grew with the introduction of a virtual reality experience in 2018 that allowed visitors to experience the death capsule in action. Critics have argued that the pod is glamorizing suicide.
“Virtual reality offers a way for people to experience their own virtual death,” Dr Nitschke said. “People seemed to be really interested in this.”
“Go with style,” reads a tagline on the official Sarco site.