Brave New World: Do-It-Yourself Suicide Pod May Be Ready for Swiss Market by Next Year

A 3D-printed suicide pod may be ready for the Swiss market as early as 2022, according to its designers.

Sarco, a capsule designed to induce “a peaceful, even euphoric death” through oxygen depletion, according to its website, is the brainchild of former medical doctor Philip Nitschke, described the BBC as having earned the nickname “Dr Death”.

Nitschke, who helped people kill themselves in Australia in the 1990s, aims to “de-medicalise the dying process” with the pod, the BBC reports, “remove[ing] any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow[ing] the individual to control the method [of suicide] themselves.”

Sarco had Daniel Huerlimann — “a legal expert and assistant professor at the University of St Gallen”, according to the BBC — assess the legality of the pod, and he said that “the pod is not covered by Swiss law” because it “[does] not constitute a medical device”.

“You need to embrace it, you need to understand what it is, you need to think about it — it’s kind of like an art installation,” Designer-Sarco creator Alexander Bannink has said of the killing machine in an official presentation video, which he said was inspired by “a sarcophagus” in terms of its aesthetics.

“[H]ow can we get that machine to your doorstep or anyplace you want to die? Maybe we could utilise 3D printing; 3D printing is evolving, so we found a big machine and it’s German engineering — it’s just, it’s perfect,” Bannink said of the decision to make the pod printable.

While the BBC referred to Nitschke’s Exit International charity as an organisation which supports “assisted dying” — the softer, more politically correct term for what was until recently referred to as assisted suicide — the Sarco promotional video does not shy away from calling it a “euthanasia device”.

Interestingly, the first organisation the BBC listed as objecting to the pod in its article was not a Christian church or religious institution or a socially conservative organisation — these were not quoted at all, in fact — but Swiss suicide enterprise Dignitas.

“For 35 years now, through the two Swiss Exit groups and for 23 years also with Dignitas, Switzerland has the practice of professional accompanied suicide with trained staff, in co-operation with physicians,” Dignitas explained to the publicly-funded British broadcaster.

“In the light of this established, safe and professionally conducted/supported practice, we would not imagine that a technologised capsule for a self-determined end of life will meet much acceptance or interest in Switzerland,” they added.

If printing your own suicide pod to kill yourself did “meet much acceptance” then Dignitas might find it harder to find “customers”, although officially it is a non-profit organisation.

The Washington Post complained that Dignitas would “not disclose details about its finances” in 2005 and the cost of joining and having yourself euthanised typically runs to thousands of Swiss Francs, however.

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