3D-Printed ‘Suicide Pod’ Gets the Legal Approval in Switzerland & May Roll Out this Year

The company that designed the 3D-printed pod (The Sarco Pod) that helps out with assisted suicide claims they’re confident the pod will be available in Switzerland as early as next year. 

The company commissioned a legal expert who concluded that their machine doesn’t violate any laws of the country.

However, other lawyers questioned the findings. 

One of those against the pod is the assisted suicide organization Dignitas. They say it’s unlikely for this pod to be accepted. Assisted suicide is when someone is given the chance to end their life and this is legal in Switzerland.

In fact, around 13,000 people died by their choice in 2020.

A New Method for Assisted Suicide? 

The method in Switzerland that’s used for assisted suicide comprises a series of liquids that a person is provided with and when they’re ingested, they end a person’s life.

On the other hand, the assisted suicide pod can be put anywhere and it contains nitrogen and lowers the levels of oxygen fast. This process would cause the individual to lose consciousness and die within 10 minutes.

This pod is activated from the inside and it also includes an emergency button that can be used in case the person has second doubts. 

According to legal expert and assistant professor at the University of St Gallen, Daniel Huerlimann, his findings point out that the pod didn’t constitute a medical device so the Swiss Therapeutic Products Act can’t cover it. 

He also emphasized that the device isn’t against the laws that govern the usage of nitrogen, weapons, or product safety. 

However, Kerstin Noelle Vkinger, lawyer, doctor, and professor at the University of Zurich notes that medical devices are regulated due to their higher safety than other products. 

Just because a product isn’t advantageous to one’s health, it doesn’t mean that it’s not affected by the additional requirements for safety.

For 35 years, through the Swiss Exit groups and for 23 years with Dignitas, Switzerland is a country where there’s the practice of professional-accompanied suicide consisting of trained staff and includes cooperation with physicians. 

In light of this safe, professionally-supported, and established method, they don’t imagine a tech capsule for a self-determined end of life to meet wide acceptance or interest.

How Will the Pot Be Offered If It Gets Approved?

In case the pod is allowed to be used, it won’t be available for conventional purchase. 

Its creator, Dr. Philip Nitschke explains that he plans to make the blueprints available and for everyone and the design can be downloaded. 

These pods will be offered free of charge. The goal is to de-medicalize the process of dying. He’s the founder of Exit International-a voluntary assisted dying charity. 

Nitschke emphasizes that their aim is to eliminate psychiatric review and leave it to the individual to manage the method themselves. He’s a promotor of the right to die and this is why his nickname is Dr. Death.

The Sarco Pod currently has two prototypes, with a third one being currently printing in The Netherlands. People have criticized Dr. Death for the pod with some claiming it glorifies suicide.