The device would allow people to seal their own deaths years in advance
By now you’ve probably seen the 3D-printable ‘suicide pods’ doing the rounds on social media. The sleek, sci-fi worthy capsule is designed to allow users to end their own life, via a switch that can only be operated from inside the chamber.
The inventor of the machine, known as the Sarco, is Dr Philip Nitschke, a former physician and ‘right to die’ advocate who administered the first voluntary lethal injection in 1996. He’s hoping to make the pods – which require users to pass an artificial intelligence-powered test to determine their mental capacity – available next year in Switzerland, which has permissive laws on voluntary assisted suicide.
Now, he and his non-profit group Exit International are already brainstorming a new device which could be implanted into people with degenerative brain conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s, to let them ensure their death in years to come.
Speaking to The Independent, Dr Nitschke said: “When a person has dementia, they can nowadays quite legally in some places fill out a bit of paper ten years ago, when they are of sound mind, saying ‘if I get like this, kill me’. Ten years later, a doctor can come along, read the bit of paper, and even though you don’t know which way is up or down, legally give you an injection and end your life. That makes a lot of people feel pretty uncomfortable, and certainly makes me feel uncomfortable.
“(The implantable device) puts the responsibility right back onto the person and allows them to get what they want, which is that they do not want to live on as some form of vegetable, with no one prepared to end their lives.”
The implant would be required to be switched off every day using reminder beeps, but it does beg the question of whether the device could malfunction. And what happens if the user genuinely does forget? Nitschke did acknowledge, admittedly, that any implantable device would face “significant legal barriers”.
Somehow Twitter has managed to find the humour in all of this, with the pods receiving the meme treatment across social media.
we love the floor plan, we just need an extra bedroom for the suicide pod— corn on the bob (@maybeitsblake) December 17, 2021
What if we kissed in the swiss suicide pod— dullnic (@niughhhkol) December 20, 2021
Shout out to the super relaxed guy checking out the suicide pod. pic.twitter.com/WA5jOxujVc— Old Silk Hat (@mbalazo) December 9, 2021
If you or someone you know is struggling with difficult feelings, you can get in touch with The Samaritans here. For those based in the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you are in another country, visit www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.