An image of a futuristic coffin like device, called Sarco device, a euthanasia pod developed by Phillip Nitschke is going viral on social media along with the claim that these 3D printed suicide pods have passed legal review in Switzerland. Newschecker found these claims to be unrue.
The image has been shared on Reddit by user u/Loomylenni2 in the subreddit r/TerrifyingAsFuck which has garnered 43,300 upvotes and 6,900 comments on the platform along with the caption ‘Assisted suicide pod approved for use in Switzerland. At the push of a button, the pod becomes filled with nitrogen gas, which rapidly lowers oxygen levels, causing its user to die.’
Newschecker found similar claims on Twitter with different captions.
The Sarco Suicide Pod has been created by a non-profit organisation called Exit International which advocates voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide. The 3D-printed pod, when activated by the user, becomes flooded with nitrogen until it fatally reduces the oxygen levels inside. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland under certain conditions. While active euthanasia not allowed, assisted suicide is legal when means of suicide are being offered by another person to the one seeking death without any selfish motive. The person seeking suicide must also be in a condition to make decisions. Active euthanasia by injecting lethal medicines is not permitted.
Fact Check /Verification
We started our investigation by conducting a keyword search along with the words “suicide pods” “sarco” and “Switzerland” on Google and found an article by the Outlook titled Did Switzerland Really Approve The Use Of 3-D Printed Suicide Pods? Uploaded on 20th December, 2021. We found that the claim had also been viral in December, 2021 with many news agencies claiming that the Sarco Pod had passed legal review in Switzerland.
According to the article, the confusion regarding the claim seems to have its genesis in a misleading headline published by a Swiss media platform last week. Switzerland’s SwissInfo, a division of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, published an interview with Nitschke with the headline “Sarco suicide capsule ‘passes legal review’ in Switzerland” which was later deleted from their website.
The archived version of the article can be seen here.
The media platform then changed the headline to “Sarco suicide capsule hopes to enter Switzerland” which can be seen here.
Upon further investigation, we found a Fact-check done by Associated Press regarding the same claim uploaded on 10th December, 2021 titled No, Switzerland has not approved a ‘suicide capsule’ .
According to the article, SwissMedic, the government agency in charge of regulating medical products, confirmed to the Associated Press that it had not approved the Sarco capsule.
Nitschke told the Associated Press that his nonprofit, Exit International, never pursued approval because it obtained outside legal opinion from a consultant — a former chair of Infrastructure Law and New Technologies at Germany’s Freiberg University of Mining and Technology — who determined it did not need formal authorization or licensing to use the device.
The article further states that, EXIT, an established organisation currently offering assisted dying services in Switzerland, says it has questions about Sarco and the legal opinion obtained by Exit International, which is unaffiliated with their group.
“It is unclear what the exact content of the legal opinion for legalisation is,” EXIT Vice President Jürg Wiler wrote in an email, adding: “And how about testing the capsule? EXIT does not see ‘Sarco’ as an alternative to the physician-assisted suicides that EXIT carries out in Switzerland.”
Newschecker’s investigation reveals that the claim that 3D printed assisted suicide pods called Sarco pods developed by Philip Nitchke have passed a legal review in Switerland, is false.
Outlook report, Did Switzerland Really Approve The Use Of 3-D Printed Suicide Pods?, (20th December, 2021)
Associated Press report, No, Switzerland has not approved a ‘suicide capsule’,(10th December, 2021)
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