3D Printers and Suicide Contagion

Sarco suicide pod, a purple, plastic, futuristic looking looking coffin with smooth sides sits on display in a white room.
The Sarco Suicide Pod.

Dr. Philip Nitschke of Exit International, whose mission is to normalize and regularize suicide, has created the Sarco Suicide Pod. The pod floods with nitrogen and reduces oxygen, activated by the person laying inside, killing in minutes. The Sarco pod advertises a pain and drug-free method of suicide.

The Sarco pod is making headlines because it passed legal review in Switzerland, where suicide is already deemed rational for some with terminal illness or disabilities because of the subjective judgements of perceived “quality of life” for those individuals. But the Sarco pod is not being marketed just to bolster the assisted suicide movement, it is for a more far-reaching audience.

“The benefit for the person who uses it is that they don’t have to get any permission, they don’t need some special doctor to try and get a needle in, and they don’t need to get difficult drugs to obtain,” Nitschke said in a Sarco demonstration last year.

This accessibility Nitschke touts puts vulnerable people, like Shawn Bieber, a young healthy woman who used The Peaceful Pill Handbook written by Nitschke to kill herself, in deadly harm. The Sarco pod could be manufactured for purchase or created by anyone with access to a 3D printer which would enable vulnerable people with lived experience of mental health diagnosis or under societal or financial pressure to kill themselves. 

Suicide prevention is being traded for suicide assistance by pro-assisted suicide/euthanasia organizations, who spread suicide contagion by highly publicizing and celebrating people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups killing themselves. Suicide assistance for some and prevention for others sends a mixed message to people  with lived experience of mental health diagnosis and implicitly makes subjective quality of life judgements about the value of some people’s lives.


Read more: Same day Suicides and California’s loosened “safeguards”

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