3D-printed coffin-like ‘suicide capsules’ are legalized in Switzerland

3D-printed coffin-like ‘suicide capsules’ that ‘can be dragged to death anywhere’ are legalized in Switzerland

  • New suicide capsules have been given the green light by Switzerland’s medical board
  • dr. Philip Nitschke, known as Dr. Death, designed the pods for assisted suicide
  • He says the main selling point is that pods can be transported to an ‘idyllic outdoor setting’
  • Last year, about 1,300 people used euthanasia organizations in Switzerland



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Portable ‘suicide capsules’ that can be made with a 3D printer and transported to ‘idyllic’ locations for use by people who want to end their lives have been legalized in Switzerland.

The country’s medical assessment board has given the green light for the use of the box-like devices, called Sarco Suicide Pods, which are designed for use in assisted suicide and can be operated by users inside.

Assisted suicide with selfless motives has been legal in Switzerland since 1942, with approximately 1,300 people using the services of euthanasia organizations in 2020 alone.

The new Sarco capsules, short for sarcophagus, were developed by Exit International, a non-profit organization that advocates the legalization of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Pod developer and Exit International founder Dr. Philip Nitschke, known as Dr. Death for his euthanasia activism, SwissInfo.ch told SwissInfo.ch that the machines “can be dragged anywhere for death.”

A photo of the Sarco Suicide Pod, which can be controlled internally and works by lowering the oxygen level

A photo of the Sarco Suicide Pod, which can be controlled internally and works by lowering the oxygen level

Australian euthanasia activist Dr.  Philip Nitschke (pictured) invented the 3D printed Sarco suicide pods

Australian euthanasia activist Dr.  Philip Nitschke (pictured) invented the 3D printed Sarco suicide pods

Australian euthanasia activist Dr. Philip Nitschke (pictured) invented the 3D printed Sarco suicide pods

dr. Nitschke also claimed that one of the main selling points of the pods is that they can be transported to an “idyllic outdoor setting.”

He said: ‘We want to remove any form of psychiatric assessment from the process and give the individual the opportunity to control the method for themselves.

“Our goal is to develop an artificial intelligence screening system to assess the person’s mental capacity. Of course there is a lot of skepticism, especially on the part of psychiatrists.

“The machine can be dragged anywhere for death. This could be in an idyllic outdoor setting, for example, or in the premises of an organization for assisted suicide.’

The biodegradable capsule can also be detached from the base to serve as a box.

The current method of assisted suicide in Switzerland is to take a capsule that puts a person into a deep coma before dying.

However, the new Sarco pods can be controlled by the user from the inside and work by lowering the internal oxygen level.

To be eligible to use the machines, a person must answer an online survey to prove that he is making the decision to end his life of his own accord.

Exit International's pods can be transported to an 'idyllic outdoor environment', according to the developer

Exit International's pods can be transported to an 'idyllic outdoor environment', according to the developer

Exit International’s pods can be transported to an ‘idyllic outdoor environment’, according to the developer

The capsule is transported in Venice shortly before being unveiled by Australian Dr.  Death, Philip Nitschke

The capsule is transported in Venice shortly before being unveiled by Australian Dr.  Death, Philip Nitschke

The capsule is transported in Venice shortly before being unveiled by Australian Dr. Death, Philip Nitschke

A passcode is then required for the pod to work.

Once inside, the user must answer pre-recorded questions and press a button to start the fatal process.

At a demonstration last year, Dr. Nitschke said the pod provides a level of autonomy and control for the patient and can be made with a 3D printer for a price between $4,000 and $8,000.

Assisted suicide is different from active euthanasia, which remains illegal in Switzerland.

However, providing the means to commit suicide is legal if the act that directly causes death is performed by the person who wishes to die.

Assisted suicide is also legal in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Canada.

Only two Sarco pods have been made, although Exit says it is 3D printing a third machine and hopes to be ready for use in Switzerland next year.

Dr Nitschke said: ‘Barring unforeseen issues, we hope to be ready to make Sarco available for use in Switzerland next year.

“It’s been a very expensive project so far, but we think we’re pretty close to implementation now.”

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