When the Sarco Capsule first appeared, people thought it was some sort of a spaceship. The truth turned out to be more complex than that: it’s actually a machine that helps people commit suicide. The device was created by Exit International in collaboration with Dr. Philip Nitschke, known by some as the Elon Musk of assisted suicide.
Nitschke unveiled his invention in November 2017 in Toronto. A month later, his home state of Victoria, in Australia, legalized euthanasia. Nitschke is considered the voice of legalizing euthanasia in his home country. Now he has a new device to help people have their final wishes.
Nitschke was just a young medical school graduate when he took an interest in euthanasia. He took to the work of Dr. Kevorkian, who is the most famous euthanasia figure in the history of the United States. So he set out to create his first invention called the Deliverance. It only consisted of a laptop which was hooked up to an IV system. A program on the computer would confirm that the patient had the intention to die which would trigger a lethal injection. Nitschke successfully took four lives with his invention before Australia repealed the bill that legalized euthanasia in 1997.
Now Nitschke is back with yet another invention. With euthanasia now legalized again in Australia, he’s set to make yet another impact. The Sarco Capsule is not only a machine that helps you commit suicide, it also helps you do it in a painless and efficient way.
According to Nitschke, there are no restricted drugs being used during the process. It also doesn’t require any specialty personnel to insert any needles. The capsule has a touchpad inside along with voice recognition and eye-movement function for those who are disabled or have a motor-neuron disease.
The design of the capsule was not accidental. Nitschke says that the design is meant to convince people using it that they are taking a journey to another life. The base of the capsule contains canisters of nitrogen and a removable capsule compartment that can also be used as a casket.
This operation will be open-sourced, which means that anyone can purchase it. In theory, it could also be 3-D printed just about anywhere in the world. When a patient enters the capsule, they will be required to wear a cardiac wristband. This will provide the capsule with heart-rate information. Each patient also has the choice of having the public see them before they die, or dying in complete privacy.
Here is a basic outline of how the Sarco Capsule works. The first step that a potential user has to do is fill out the online test for mental fitness. If they pass, an access code is given to them which is only good for 24 hours. The user then enters the capsule and puts their access code and other additional information. If everything is entered in properly, the capsule will fill up with nitrogen and bring the oxygen level down to around 5 percent. In about one minute, the user will become unconscious, and shortly after that, they will pass away.
Over the past 20 years, the right to physician-assisted suicide has become legal in Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado, Oregon and a few European countries. In the past, physician-assisted suicide was frowned upon and took a lot of backlash from society. But Nitschke believes that the current change in attitude could stem from the aging Baby Boomer generation. He believes that this generation wants to be in control of their own lives and not have anyone tell them what to do.
Although each state and country has their own set of rules regarding euthanasia, Nitschke believes that the right to die is a human right, not a legal or medical privilege. But as expected, not everyone agrees with Nitschke’s thinking. Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, who is a professor of biomedical ethics at Georgetown University, says that euthanasia is a way of converting killing into healing. He also adds that this type of practice does not acknowledge that the medical industry can do more for symptoms and treatment than ever before.
Sulmasy also believes that assisted suicide sends a bad message to those who are disabled or dying. He says that it’s basically telling dying people that society believes that they should choose death if they are becoming too much of a burden. There is also an ethically moral process called the rule of double effect. Sulmasy says that the rule states that if a patient agrees to certain risks, physicians are allowed to continue increasing the dosage of pain medication. If a physician administers enough pain medication, the patient could become unconscious and die.