The Sarco machine, a 3-D printed assisted suicide pod, passed legal review in Switzerland, and it is expected to be available for public use in 2022.
The machine is intended to replace the more common suicide method that requires doctors to prescribe liquid sodium pentobarbital to suicidal patients who want to kill themselves.
“Currently a doctor or doctors need to be involved to prescribe the sodium pentobarbital and to confirm the person’s mental capacity,” Dr. Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International said. “We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves.”
The Sarco resembles a futuristic coffin with a top made of glass. “It’s very comfortable,” Nitschke said. A suicidal person can step inside, answer a few prompts related to informed consent, then press a button to initiate their death, the pod is then flooded with nitrogen, and the oxygen level falls to 1% in about 30 seconds.
There is no choking feeling, no feeling of panic, and the patient will be dead within ten minutes, Nitschke said.
While countries that allow assisted suicide often require a person to have a serious illness, Switzerland only requires that the person assisting in the suicide is not motivated by selfishness. The country does not ban assisted suicides for young people who are tired of living, in fact, Switzerland has a booming industry of suicide tourism and permits legal pay-to-die suicide clinics.