In Switzerland, assisted suicide has been legal since 1942 and the method used to carry it out is the consumption of a lethal drug. However, the European country could soon implement a coffin-like capsule, created by doctor Philip Nitschkea controversial advocate of euthanasia who was dubbed as the “Dr Death” and “the Elon Musk of assisted suicide”.
In dialogue with the British media The Daily Mailthe doctor explained that in Switzerland “are ready” to use the new method for the first time and that they are talking to “a number of people who want to be the first to use it.”
“I’ve been in Switzerland for the last week talking to our lawyers just to make sure no further Swiss requirements are needed before use,” the Australian doctor explained.
“A gesture”: the Belgian who slit her children’s throats died by euthanasia on the anniversary of the crime
The capsules made in 3D, called “Sarco” as an abbreviation of “sarcophagus” (in Spanish: sarcophagus), are portable devices that work by reducing internal oxygen levels and that users can operate from within.
They were developed by Exit International, a non-profit company headed by Nitschke, and cost between $4,000 and $8,000 to create. They are currently in the final stages of preparation for use in Switzerland.
Regarding its operation, the specialist specified: “The person will get on the machine, they will be asked three questions and they will answer verbally: ‘Who are you?‘, ‘Where is?‘ and ‘Do you know what happens if you press the button?‘. And if they answer those questions verbally, the software turns on the power so they can push the button. And if they press the button they will die very quickly“.
“When you go up to Sarco, the oxygen level is 21%, but after the button is pressed, it takes 30 seconds for the oxygen to drop to less than 1%“, he added.
To use this method of assisted suicide, the individual must be a member of Exit International, whose registration costs one hundred dollars. Added to this, the individual must demonstrate that he has the mental capacity to try to end his life, something required by Swiss law. “We’ll use the traditional method of getting a Swiss psychiatrist to basically talk to the person and assess their mental capacity, and we’ll do that before the person can use the device,” Nitschke explained.
According to the doctor, the current method in Switzerland, which consists of ingesting a drug, has its flaws, for which he presents his invention as an alternative. “To swallow a pill you have to be able to swallow it (some people can’t) and avoid any possibility of vomiting or not have any intestinal conditions that interfere with absorption,” he said.
Added to this, Nitschke considered that his device will offer people “the option of a peaceful death, whether they are sick or not”. “We understand that life is a precious gift, but what kind of a gift is it if you can’t give it away? The precious gift of life should be something you have the ability to dispose of when you feel the time is right,” he said. .
The controversies regarding the Sacro capsules
While Nitschke said his invention will give people the chance to end their lives in a “peaceful” way, pro-life groups warned that the capsules “make suicide pretty.” In this sense, James Mildred, director of participation of the international humanitarian agency CARE, affirmed that “Philip Nitschke’s device has been condemned by a wide range of commentators”.
He added: “Many people feel that trivializes, and even embellishes, suicide. We believe that suicide is a tragedy that good societies try to prevent in any circumstance. There are ethical ways to help human beings that do not involve the destruction of life.”
Mass sterilization and euthanasia in people with disabilities: the prelude to Nazism
In line with his statements, Dr. Gordon Macdonald, executive director of the Care Not Killing alliance, considered that this is a “new low point” in this type of method. “The development of personal gas chambers marks a new low point in the debate about whether or not to kill people through assisted suicide and euthanasia,” she said.
“What is equally laughable is the claim that it will give people a quick and painless death, as this was exactly what was said about the use of lethal drugs in the handful of places that have introduced assisted suicide or euthanasia,” he concluded.
Nitschke’s other project: assisted suicide implants for people with dementia
In addition to Sarco, Nitschke revealed that he was working on a concept for implants that end the life of people with dementia, although there is still no prototype. According to the man, someone going through the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease could, in theory, choose to have the implant if he wanted to end his life before the condition became too severe.
In that sense, users would have to press a button on the implant regularly, perhaps once a day, Nitschke suggested, to prevent a lethal dose of poison from being administered. If the disease progressed to a point where the person did not have the ability to press the button, then the device would end the person’s life.
Alzheimer: How is the vaccine that seeks to delay the disease?
“When we manage to make this device, I’ll have to try it myself“, Nitschke told the Daily Mailat the same time that he considered that there would probably have to be some kind of beep to warn the person that it was about to activate.
The specific chemical the device would use to deliver death has not yet been defined, as his team is “having a lot of trouble trying to figure out what we can use.” An alternative option to administering poison would be to place an electrical device similar to a cardiac pacemaker.