30-Second "Suicide Pod" Passes Legal Testing in Switzerland

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Dec. 7 2021, Updated 8:46 a.m. ET

If you've ever watched Futurama, then you're probably well-versed in all of the series' running jokes and gags. Like anytime the Professor says, "Good news everyone!" Or Bender whipping out his camera and saying, "neat!" right before snapping a photo, or Hedonismbot covering himself in chocolate or doing pretty much...well, anything. Oh, and how can you forget Roberto?

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But there's also a fairly macabre running "gag" in the series that isn't really looked at with much fondness, and that's more than likely due to the dark subject matter it address: suicide booths. While it might've seemed like an absurdist joke when the show first debuted in 1999, it turns out that Matt Groening has managed to predict the future yet again.

Because Switzerland has just approved the use of personal suicide pods.

IFL Science has reported, "The contraption can be wheeled to anywhere the person wishes, de-coupling them from a clinical setting and allowing them to pass in their ideal surroundings."

Euthanasia is currently legal in seven countries: New Zealand, Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Luxembourg, Canada, and Belgium.

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So why has the Swiss government approved the pod? Well, that's because while active euthanasia is illegal in the country, places can supply individuals with the means of ending their own lives should they choose to do so.

This could be why the Sarco, short for sarcophagus (which we all probably know from the "Monster" verse that isn't the "best one of the track") was legally approved by the country for personal use.

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The company that created the 3-D-printed device says that it's a painless and natural way to end a person's life as "no controlled substances" are used or administered to the individual in the pod. The see-through glass dome also allows an individual to pass in a place of their choosing. So if you want to tow it to that Taco Bell parking lot where you had the best chicken quesadilla you've ever had, that's an option. However, management might not be too pleased with that.

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The Sarco also functions as a casket and its pod is made out of biodegradable wood, which can then be removed from the pod and buried underground.

The Founder of Exit International, Philip Nitschke, told Swiss Info, "It’s a 3-D printed capsule, activated from the inside by the person intending to die."

He continued, "The machine can be towed anywhere for the death. It can be in an idyllic outdoor setting or in the premises of an assisted suicide organization, for example."

The pod can be entirely operated by the user, which houses a bed they can rest in. They are then presented a number of questions inside the pod, which they must answer before they're ultimately presented with the option of engaging death mode.

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The kill sequence, which can be aborted at any time should the user choose to, utilizes nitrogen gas that fills the chamber while oxygen levels are slowly decreased. This reportedly causes a "euphoric like state" in the individual as their brain and body undergoes hypoxia. Once the sequence is initiated, a person will die within 30 seconds.

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"The Sarco aims to provide a happy hypoxic death. Hypoxia means low oxygen. This is the same as when a plane depressurizes. The experience of being in a low oxygen environment can be intoxicating. Just ask scuba divers!" Exit International writes in a FAQ.

So what's the inspiration behind the Sarco? The life of Tony Nicklinson, a man who suffered from locked-in syndrome, which is complete paralysis of the body except for one's eyes. Tony lobbied to choose the way he died and eventually passed away after declining to eat for an entire week in 2012.

Tony's legal team reportedly reached out to the creators of the Sarco prior to his death.

Exit International plans on having Sarco units active in Switzerland in 2022. Other features will be implemented into the units at the time of their release: like cameras that allow those inside the pod to communicate with loved ones outside of it.

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