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Creators of a highly controversial innovation are hopeful what’s being dubbed the ‘suicide pod’ will soon get the green light.
The Sarco capsule, developed by Australia-based Exit International, is a 3-D printed device intended to provide a way for someone to kill themselves without the use of controlled substances, and its developers are hopeful it may be available for customers in Switzerland as early as next year, according to the New York Post.
Controversial 'suicide pod' that 'kills peacefully' gets go-ahead in Switzerland https://t.co/GK2e8pnTG5 pic.twitter.com/kuVcmf22Cz
— New York Post (@nypost) December 7, 2021
The death capsule functions by flooding the air-tight interior with nitrogen, which will quickly reduce the oxygen level from 21 percent to 1 percent over approximately 30 seconds. This will cause disorientation and confusion, and possibly euphoria and other side effects associated with oxygen starvation. Death itself is supposed to occur roughly 5 to 10 minutes later, through the twin effects of hypoxia, which is oxygen deprivation, and hypocapnia, which is carbon dioxide deprivation.
According to its creator, Philip Nitschke, there is supposed to be no panic or pain or choking feeling, as the person is still breathing in an “atmosphere,” unlike drowning in water, for example. According to him, in his interview with local Swiss website SwissInfo.Ch, the machine is meant to be portable and can be towed anywhere. Want to kill yourself in a serene park or on the beach? The pod can go there.
The death pod itself is decorated in a soft purple and silver (though some variants are other colors such as red, blue, and green), a sleek, futuristic-looking thing, that was on display at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassal, Germany. Other prototypes were felt to be less aesthetically pleasing and were not displayed. Even so, it’s hard to not notice the coffin-like appearance of the device, which may or may not be intentional.
Nitschke also stated that part of his goal is to “de-medicalize” the “dying process,” which is essentially removing any medical professional involved in the process of killing oneself. Under current laws in western Europe, a doctor needs to prescribe sodium pentobarbital and evaluate the individual’s mental capacity. If you “pass,” then the doctors will hand over the drugs and help you kill yourself, completely legally. Nitschke wants to go a step farther with this pod, essentially enabling anyone to commit suicide without even that farcical legal barrier.
“We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Nitschke stated quite candidly in the interview.
The only kind of “safeguard” in the system is an AI. The computer built into the pod asks you a few questions and then compares it to its internal answer sheet, and then dispenses the gas. As Nitschke admitted, there is quite a bout of skepticism about this, due to AI questionnaires typically being as foolproof as a Facebook quiz to determine what kind of pizza you are.
The pod is intended to be used in Switzerland by 2022, “barring any unforeseen difficulties.” The Swiss government, which allows medically assisted suicide, has not commented on whether or not the pod will be cleared for use in the country. At least 1,300 people killed themselves in Switzerland last year – with legal complicity of the Swiss government and medical establishment.
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