Switzerland approves machine that can give 'painless' death

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Remember the epic Bollywood romance Guzaarish, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali? The movie was praised widely for its cinematography and intriguing theme which was euthanasia.

The euthanasia or assisted suicide debate has resurfaced again as a suicide machine that can be controlled by blinking has recently passed legal reviews in Switzerland.

The machine can be operated from the inside –conceivably just by blinking if the person suffers from locked-in syndrome – and works by reducing the oxygen level in the pod to below a critical level.

The machine is prepared to take control away from the physicians in terms of assisted suicide and allow patients to kill themselves at the push of a button.

Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) reports that Exit International, a nonprofit advocacy dedicated to assisted suicide, has developed a 3D-printed suicide chamber dubbed Sarco.

The capsule just recently cleared legal regulatory approval in Switzerland and is set to launch in the country as soon as next year, SBC added.

Sarco allows patients to lay comfortably inside. When they’re ready to die, they press a button that fills the chamber with nitrogen gas, resulting in what the nonprofit says will be a painless death via oxygen deprivation within 30 seconds.

“There is no panic, no choking feeling,” Dr Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International, told the SBC. 

The chamber also allows patients to choose where they might want to die as they can be transported to different locations, like a beach, forest, or their own home.

Although the debates regarding assisted suicide age back to decades, this development introduced a new chapter, the concept of de-medicalising the suicide process.

In Switzerland, one needs to have a doctor confirm their mental capacity and then prescribe them liquid sodium pentobarbital, a drug that can kill you in two to five minutes. 

But the new suicide machine is different as its creators want to create an AI-powered online mental capacity test.  If anyone passes, it gives a code that will allow them to access Sarco. 

“However, that’s still in the conceptual stages. We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Nitschke told the broadcaster.

Opinion on euthanasia 

Assisted suicide or euthanasia is one of the most controversial issues in the world, right up there alongside abortion.

Article 32 of the Constitution of Bangladesh gives a person the right to life. But why the right to live with dignity and the right to take away one's own life cannot be interpreted as part of the right to life can be an argument, as far as Bangladesh is concerned.

The colonial-era Section 309 of the Bangladesh penal code makes attempt to suicide a criminal offence, which is debatable. A suicide survivor needs to be at counselling if he wants, not behind the bars.

Some of the Western countries have already allowed terminally ill people the choice of an assisted death.

The system cannot simply make people with great physical and/or mental suffering continue to endure their suffering against their wishes, thinks many.

Campaigners for euthanasia have argued that giving dying people the opportunity to choose when and how they die allows them to take control of their life and allow them to go down with dignity.

Opposite arguments are strong as well, as many argue that a death decision taken can deprive one of the opportunities that were waiting to arrive. 

The debate may not stop anytime soon, but for now, Switzerland has brought a revolution for the cause with a machine that is said to be able to make death painless. 


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