A Swiss non-profit designs 3D-printed suicide pods for terminally-ill patients

December 7, 2021

Switzerland is the first country that started allowing assisted suicide in 1942 for terminally-ill patients with no hope of recovery, although any other form of euthanasia is against the law unlike other countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, among others, where euthanasia is legal. Now, the Swiss medical review board has legalised portable suicide capsules that can be created with a 3D printer for those wanting to end their life.

The Sarco Suicide Pods have been developed by Exit International, a non-profit firm that has long advocated for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia. The Sarco pod can be operated by the user from inside to carry out the assisted suicide by reducing the internal oxygen levels. The person first has to take a survey to establish the decision to end their life. They will then be required to answer pre-recorded questions and press a button to begin the process.

The process takes less than a minute and death occurs through hypoxia and hypocapnia, which is intended to allow a person to die relatively peacefully and painlessly.

Dr Philip Nitschke, a euthanasia activist and Exit International founder, said among the key features of the pod is that it can be transported to an “idyllic outdoor setting”. “We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves. Our aim is to develop an artificial-intelligence screening system to establish the person’s mental capacity. Naturally there is a lot of skepticism, especially on the part of psychiatrists,” he told

Switzerland had legalised assisted suicide in 1942. The method used was ingesting a capsule that sends the person into a coma before they die. Roughly 1,300 people used the services of euthanasia organisations Dignitas and Exit last year.

The Sarco pods, however, have faced criticism. “Gas may never be an acceptable method for assisted suicide in Europe due to the negative connotations of the Holocaust,” Dr Nitschke told The Independent in a 2018 interview. “Some have even said that it’s just a glorified gas chamber.”

Two Sarco prototypes currently exist, but Exit International is 3D printing a third machine that it hopes to be ready for operation in Switzerland next year.

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