The Sarco assisted euthanasia pod first started making waves around 2017. Created by Dutch doctor Philip Nitschke of Exit International, it's a coffin-like pod that's meant to help deliver people to the end of their lives without pain. Once an individual has entered the pod, they are presented with a series of questions; eventually, they are given control of a button which, once pressed, slowly releases nitrogen into the pod and reducing the oxygen level until death occurs by hypoxia and hypocapnia. According to Dr. Nitschke, there is "no panic, no choking feeling," and it in fact creates a somewhat euphoric feeling as the individual loses consciousness.
Of course, there have often been legal complications around the issue of euthanasia. But Exit International has nearly navigated the bureaucracy, and claims that the 3D-printed Sarco will likely be available in Switzerland starting in 2022 (although there's no official launch date yet). From Gizmodo:
Switzerland has few legal barriers to physician-assisted suicide and it has become an accepted practice, with hundreds of people (most often those with a terminal illness) choosing to end their lives via that method each year. Several other European countries, including Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands have similar policies in place, while some of their neighbors accept other practices such as passive euthanasia or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in certain circumstances.
In 2020, the Daily Beast wrote, some 1,300 assisted suicides were carried out in Switzerland. According to Business Insider, statistics show that from 2019 to 2020 in the Netherlands, euthanasia rates increased by 9% to 6,938 procedures. Regional Euthanasia Review Committees chair Jeroen Recourt told Dutch paper Trouw such figures were "part of a larger development. More and more generations see euthanasia as a solution for unbearable suffering. But the thought that euthanasia is an option in the case of hopeless suffering is very reassuring."
There are of course valid reasons why someone might choose euthanasia. But if you or someone you know are contemplating death by suicide, I would ask you to please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. You can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. There are groups such as the Samaritans that can offer some counsel as well.
Controversial Assisted Suicide Pod Cleared for Use in Switzerland [Tom McKay / Gizmodo]
Sarco suicide capsule hopes to enter Switzerland [Clare O'Dea / SwissInfo]
Maker of suicide pod plans to launch in Switzerland [Jane Wakefield / BBC News]
Controversial 'suicide pod' that 'kills peacefully' gets go-ahead in Switzerland [Jamie Harris / The Sun]