Sarco Capsule, An Euthanasia Device, Passes Legal Review In Switzerland


New Delhi: The Sarco suicide capsule, a 3D-printed machine, has passed legal review in Switzerland, Swiss news agency SwissInfo reported. This means the device may be legally operated in Switzerland for use in assisted suicide.

The device has been developed by Exit International.

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, and around 1,300 people died by euthanasia in the country in 2020, using the services of the country’s two largest assisted suicide organisations, Dignitas and Exit (not linked to Exit International). Ingestion of liquid sodium pentobarbital is the method currently in use. However, Sarco offers a different approach for a peaceful death, without using controlled substances.

While the world has been debating euthanasia, and also the use of such devices, several countries have made assisted suicides legal. Among them are Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Canada and Colombia.

In 2018, the Supreme Court of India allowed passive euthanasia, and issued guidelines recognizing the “living will” of terminally-ill patients.

How Does Sarco Work?

Quoting Dr Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International, a SwissInfo article said that Sarco is a 3D-printed capsule activated from the inside by the person intending to die, and can be towed anywhere for initiation of the process that will lead to the person’s death .

The Sarco capsule is shaped like a coffin. Nitschke said the device asks a number of questions to the person who enters it. After answering the questions, the user may press the button inside the capsule to activate the mechanism in accordance to his or her convenience.

The capsule works by filling the interior with nitrogen, which reduces the oxygen level.

Nitschke said there are two prototypes of Sarco in existence so far, and that the third Sarco is being printed in the Netherlands. He said the third machine will be ready for operation in Switzerland in 2022 if everything goes to plan.

Nitschke said his aim is to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method himself. He said they intend to develop an artificial intelligence screening system to establish the person’s mental capacity.

According to reports, the device has faced heavy criticism, on expected lines, with some calling it a “gas chamber”, and others saying it “glorifies” suicide.



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