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Suicide Capsule: Death in 60 Seconds Passes Switzerland

According to its makers, a coffin-shaped capsule that promises a relatively painless and peaceful death in under one minute has been legalized in Switzerland. After taking the medication, the person will fall asleep in two to five minutes before slipping into a deep coma and dying shortly after. Hypoxia and hypocapnia are produced by lowering the oxygen level in the pod to a critical level, resulting in death.

If the person utilizing the machine has locked-in syndrome, the machine can be controlled from within by blinking, according to the Independent UK. A patient with the syndrome is cognizant but unable to move or communicate audibly due to full paralysis of practically all voluntary muscles in the body, with the exception of vertical eye motions and blinking. The machine is delivered to the user’s chosen location, and the biodegradable capsule is detached from the base to serve as a coffin.

The capsule is resting on a piece of machinery that will quickly flood the interior with nitrogen, reducing the oxygen content to 1% from 21% in about 30 seconds. The person will be perplexed and even euphoric before losing consciousness. Hypoxia and hypocapnia, or a shortage of oxygen and carbon dioxide, respectively, cause death. There is no dread or feeling of suffocation.

Dr. Philip Nitschke, the director of the non-profit organization Exit International, also known as ‘Dr. Death’ designed the suicide pod. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, and around 1,300 people use the services of euthanasia organizations each year. Nitschke stated that, barring any unforeseen impediments, they hope to make Sarco available for use in Switzerland next year. He went on to say that it’s a costly project, but that they’re getting close to finishing it.

Nitschke, on the other hand, drew criticism for his machine’s technique. According to the Independent, “others have even argued that it is “merely a glorified gas chamber.”
Some have gone so far as to say that the machine encourages and romanticizes suicide. Only two Sarco prototypes exist for now, but Exit International is 3D printing a third machine that will be operational in Switzerland next year.

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