A 3D-Printed Assisted Suicide Pod Is Now Legal in Switzerland

It's accessible to those with incurable conditions.
Ameya Paleja
Sarco can be towed to a place of choice.Exit International

A 3D-printed pod that assists people in suicide has passed the legal review to operate in Switzerland, the makers of the device said in an interview to Swiss Info, a member of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. The pod called 'Sarco' that does not use any controlled substances is expected to be operational in 2022. 

While illegal in most countries, assisted suicide is legal in a handful of countries including The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, and Switzerland, Business Insider reported. A common requirement in these countries is that the person opting for assisted suicide has a terminal condition that cannot be cured and is causing them suffering.

Close to 1,300 such procedures were performed in Switzerland in 2020 with two organizations currently assisting the process, Swiss Info reported. The method is ingesting sodium pentobarbital, usually used as a sedative. As a controlled substance, the drug needs to be prescribed by a doctor before a psychiatric review is necessary. However, Exit International, the makers of Sarco, want to make the process easier for the individual. 

The company wants to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to assess the mental soundness of the person opting to die by assisted suicide. They would need to complete an online test to demonstrate that they have taken the decision with free will and then get access to the code to access Sarco. 

The 3D-printed pod that looks like a coffin can be towed to the location of choice where the individual can then lie down in it. The system then asks the individual a series of questions, which when answered will allow the individual to begin the process with the press of a button. 

According to the information provided by the makers of Sarco, the pod then floods the interiors with nitrogen while reducing oxygen to about one percent. The person falls unconscious and dies of hypoxia - oxygen starvation within 30 seconds. The process does not require any injection or ingestion of controlled substances and there is no panic or feeling of choking, the company said. 

The company, which is based in The Netherlands, still needs to develop a camera that will be placed inside the pod and record a video of the individual consenting to the process. It is working with organizations in Switzerland and expects to have a pod in operation by 2022. 

Disclaimer: If you are having thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at Speaking of Suicide.

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