Happy And Dignified Death: Painless Death Under One Minute - Legal Or Not?

Author: Paulami Dam, Junior Research Fellow

In Switzerland, a gadget named Sarco that offers dignified death in less than one minute has passed legal scrutiny. Although the Swiss constitution does not explicitly permit voluntary death, it does make it illegal if "selfish motivations" are demonstrated in the act [1]. Sarco's formal worldwide premiere was staged in the Palazzo Michiel, Canale Grande, Venice, during Venice Design 2019. On April 14, 2018, a complete woodwork model of Sarco was exhibited first at Amsterdam Funeral Expo [2].

Happy And Dignified Death: Painless Death Under One Minute - Legal Or Not?


Sarco was developed as a large capsule-like device that might generate a fast reduction of internal oxygen levels, simultaneously keeping a low carbon dioxide level. Founders argued it as a condition for a serene and pleasant death. According to the company, the happy death lies in the concept of 'a sense of occasion’ or ‘travel to a new destination’ [2].


To operate Sarco, no greater skill is required. No drugs or medical interventions are associated with its operation. Researchers are expecting to utilize eye movement or voice commands to activate the device [2].


Happy And Dignified Death: Painless Death Under One Minute - Legal Or Not?
SARCO: THE DEATH MACHINE (Image courtesy: Exit International)


And the answer is Exit International. It is a non-profit public company. Exit International, previously known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Research Foundation, was established in the year of 1997 by Dr Philip Nitschke. They have designated themselves as a ‘voluntary assisted dying organization’. If you visit the official website of the company a glorifying line will welcome you: WHERE ART MEETS ITS END… If you scroll down into their about information, you will surely halt for rereading their motto [2].

Exit is unique in the right to die movement in that the organisation sees a ‘good death’ as a fundamental human right, rather than a medical privilege reserved only for the terminally ill. At Exit, we believe that it is a fundamental human right for every adult of sound mind, to be able to plan for the end of their life in a way that is reliable, peaceful & at a time of their choosing.


Tony Nicklinson, a British guy with a 'locked-in' condition, was the inspiration for Sarco's development. He had a massive stroke in 2005 causing him a neck-down paralysis of the body. The concept of eye movement or voice command originated from this phenomenon. Tony's attorneys once urged Dr. Nitschke if he can help him to welcome death with dignity via Dr. Nitchke's technology.  


This death device or suicide machine, whatever the name is being popularized, is surely glorifying death. Doctors and psychologists are worried about the general people if they lose the urge to fight with life as death would become an easy game after being legalized. Moreover, the world runs behind trends. It is never anticipated in this very case.  

N.B. Assisted suicide is still illegal under Indian law. Read more about the countries where assisted death is legal.


2. https://www.exitinternational.net/about-exit/history/


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