According to the recommendations of Exit International, a capsule designed by the organization in the form of 3D printing with the aim of assisted suicide (voluntary death) may be legally used in Switzerland. The capsule is called “Sarco”.
Sarco has been exhibited at several art and design events across Europe
In 2020, about 1,300 people died in Switzerland using the services of two of Switzerland’s largest suicide aid organizations, Exit (not affiliated with Exit International) and Dignitas. The current method is to use liquid sodium pentobarbital. After taking this medicine, the person falls asleep two to five minutes before going into a deep coma and then dies quickly.
Sarco offers a different approach to quiet death without the need for controlled substances. SWI swissinfo.ch news website with Dr. Philip Nick, The founder of Exit International, spoke about Sarco capsules and the place he expects the invention to have in the death aid sector in Switzerland. You can read a summary of this conversation below.
Sarco is made with a 3D printer
SWI swissinfo.ch: What is Sarco and how does it work?
Philip Nietzsche: Sarkor is a capsule-like structure made by 3D printing that is activated from within by the person who intends to die. This device can be taken anywhere to die. For example, he can commit suicide in a quiet outdoor environment or in a special place in the organization. The person enters the capsule and lies down. This device is very convenient. They are asked a few questions, and after answering, they may press a button inside the capsule, which activates its mechanism.
The capsule sits on a piece of equipment that fills the interior with nitrogen and quickly raises the oxygen level from 21 to 1 percent in about 30 seconds. The person feels a little confused and may feel a little happy before losing consciousness. Death occurs from hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and hypocapnia (lack of carbon dioxide). There is no panic or suffocation. In an environment where oxygen is less than 1%, death occurs after approximately 5 to 10 minutes with loss of consciousness.
What stage are you at in terms of developing and making the machine available for use?
Philippe Nietzsche: Last year, following the legality of the use of Sarco in Switzerland for assisted death, we received senior counseling and the result was positive and there is no legal problem. Two prototypes of the sarcophagus are now available, and a third sarcophagus is being printed in the Netherlands. If all goes well, the third device will be ready for use in Switzerland in 2022. The first sarcophagus will be on display from September 2021 to August 2022 at the Museum of Tomb Culture in Kassel, Germany. The latter is not aesthetically pleasing; For this and other reasons, it is not the best option to use.
Several additional Sarco projects have been delayed due to the birth of Covid 19. For example, building a camera that allows a person to communicate with outsiders. While doing this, it is necessary to record the informed consent of the person.
Your stated goal is to make the death process non-medical. What does this require?
Philip Nietzsche: At the moment, the participation of doctors is needed to prescribe pentobarbital sodium and verify a person’s mental capacity. We want to eliminate any kind of psychiatric examination from this process and allow the person to control the process himself. Our goal is to create an artificial intelligence screening system to determine the mental capacity of individuals. Naturally, there are many doubts, especially from psychiatrists; But our basic concept idea is for the person to take an online test and get a code to access Sarko.
Given that you are based in the Netherlands, how will you enter the Swiss market?
Philippe Nietzsche: We have spoken to various groups in Switzerland, including those we have worked with in the field of suicidal ideation before, so that we can present Sarco for use in this country. This will be done in collaboration with a local organization. Unless there is a particular problem, we hope to make Sarco available for use in Switzerland next year. This project has been very costly so far; But I think we are not far behind in implementing it.