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Suicide Capsule Machine Gets Approved For Use In Switzerland

Suicide Capsule Machine Gets Approved For Use In Switzerland

The 3D-printed capsule lets people die in a way that is very different.

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

Philip Nitschke's suicide capsule machine has been approved for use in Switzerland.

The Australian former physician and founder of the pro-euthanasia group Exit International recently got news that his Sarco machine will soon be used in the European country.

It's a 3D-printed capsule that allows someone wanting to die to do it in a different way that has previously been legalised.

Exit International

Patients would normally have to have a doctor administer liquid sodium pentobarbital, which will make them fall asleep after a few minutes, then into a coma and then eventually die.

These people also have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to make sure the person has mental capacity and clarity to say they are of sound mind and want to die.

Nitschke machine's approaches the process as well as the concept of suicide a little differently.

He told Swiss-Info: "The person will get into the capsule and lie down. It's very comfortable. They will be asked a number of questions and when they have answered, they may press the button inside the capsule activating the mechanism in their own time.

"The capsule is sitting on a piece of equipment that will flood the interior with nitrogen, rapidly reducing the oxygen level to 1 per cent from 21 per cent.

"The person will feel a little disoriented and may feel slightly euphoric before they lose consciousness. The whole thing takes about 30 seconds.

"Death takes place through hypoxia and hypocapnia, oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation, respectively. There is no panic, no choking feeling."

He said the user would also get a feeling of euphoria just before they pass out due to the nitrogen, so their final moments would be happy and content.


Philip hopes his Sarco machine will de-medicalise the process of dying.

He doesn't believe patients should have to undergo a psych evaluation and wants them to have more of a role in the way they die, which is why the Sarco capsule requires the user to press the button.

The former physician wants to be able to develop an artificial intelligence screening system that will assess whether they have capacity.

"Naturally there is a lot of scepticism, especially on the part of psychiatrists," he said. "But our original conceptual idea is that the person would do an online test and receive a code to access the Sarco."

He already has two prototype Sarco machines in existence at the moment, with one being housed at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel, Germany, while the other one is in storage because it's not 'aesthetically pleasing'.

But he's keen on getting a third one into Switzerland now that there are no legal issues.

Featured Image Credit: Exit International

Topics: News, Technology