Sarco Elucidation Notes

Sarco Elucidation Notes

The Sarco is a multi-faceted R&D project of Exit International.

There are 4 principal components to Sarco Project. Apart from the game-changing 3D printing of the enclosed euthanasia capsule, the Sarco project incorporates research questions involving Sarco Raspberry Pi software to allow entry access, the development of mental capacity screening using AI and, finally, the concept of an implantable dementia switch.

1. Sarco Raspberry Pi & the Development of AI Screening

The Sarco project incorporates experimental software developments.

In this regard, Raspberry Pi processor will allow a series of mandatory questions to be asked of the user of the Sarco, before they activate it for use (and for their ultimate death).

A series of questions will be asked verbally. Only upon the correct responses being recorded will the green ‘Go’ button be able to be pushed and the Sarco acvitated by the user (inside).

The questions to be answered are:

  • What is your name
  • Where are you?
  • What will happen when you press the activation button inside Sarco?

The final question is: ‘Do you wish to proceed?’

If this final question records a ‘yes’ answer, the user will be able to push the green ‘go’ button and activate the Sarco.

This is the activation procedure for the Sarco and is already part of Sarco 3.0.

2. AI Mental Capacity Screening: Is this the Future?

In Switzerland, assisted suicide is allowed as long as the person being assisted possesses mental capacity.

At the current time, mental capacity is determined by a psychiatric assessment by a registered psychiatrist.

The Sarco project wants to challenge this status quo using AI.

The research question driving this part of the Sarco project is, ‘is AI better at mental capacity assessment than a real life psychiatrist?’

The role of AI in the determination of mental capacity remains controversial, even though there is growing evidence that current human assessment is subject to bias and an inability to replicate results.

A recent summary of the Sarco Project in MIT Technology Review referred to a “messy morality” of letting AI make life and death decisions.

This article can be read on the Exit International Website.

3. The Development of an Implantable Dementia Switch?

The Sarco R&D project also incorporates the objective of creating an implantable switch which could be activated by the person in whose body it is implanted, in the face of mental decline due to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

At the current time, the only strategy (at least in the Netherlands) on offer to give agency (in terms of end of life decision-making) back to those suffering dementia and Alzheimer’s, is an advance health directive.

In most jurisdictions, however, not even this is available. People with a cognitive mental health diagnosis tend to be excluded from most legislative models. This is a deeply unsatisfactory and cruel state of affairs.

To address this need, Exit has set about to create a programmable, implantable switch.

In theory, this switch would be continuously maintained by a user as a normal function of their continuing mental capacity.

However, if the switch failed to be maintained by its owner, again in theory, the switch could instigate an action that could cause death.

A thought experiment has been created by Marije de Haas. This work has inspired Exit’s thinking and commitment to find a technological solution to this intractable problem.

Sarco @ NVVE 50th Birthday, 2023

Sarco @ NVVE 50th Birthday, 2023

Sarco Pod Promises a Humane Death within 5 to 10 Minutes

The Sarco Pod Sarco Pod Promises a Humane Death within 5 to 10 Minutes reports De Volkskrant.

The Sarco is viewed intently at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Dutch Society for a Voluntary End of Life (NVVE), 2 June 2023.

Without hesitation, he stretches out on the black cushions of the Sarco Pod, a futuristic machine some call a suicide coffin. The man folds his hands solemnly over his abdomen. Then the lid closes. Is this it, then?

No, he does not press the red blinking button to start the process by which nitrogen is added to the airtight capsule and the oxygen content drops from 21 to 1 percent within 30 seconds. Nor can he, because this is a demonstration model.

Then he knocks on the window – he wants out. ‘I found it terrifying,’ says Berd Stapelkamp (75) a moment later.

‘I’m claustrophobic and wanted to know what it’s like to lie in it. As a challenge. With a chuckle, “I didn’t know how fast to get out again!

‘My life, my end’

Stapelkamp is a longtime member of the Dutch Association for a Voluntary End of Life (NVVE), which celebrates its 50th anniversary Friday. In the halls of Gooiland in Hilversum, there will be lectures on living wills, a conversation about death in 2073 (when the NVVE celebrates its 100th anniversary) and a theater play about euthanasia titled “My life, my end!

The Sarco Pod is also part of the program and is gleaming in the main hall. The audience – without exception graying or balding – shuffles around it in fascination. Despite his claustrophobic experience, Stapelkamp is enthusiastic about the device, which promises a peaceful death within five to 10 minutes.

‘For a certain category of people who can’t get euthanasia and don’t want to resort to gruesome methods, this is a wonderful solution,’ he says. ‘It’s painless, there are no cumbersome procedures ánd you don’t have to burden others with it. They just have to lift you out.’

Although Stapelkamp is still in good health, he is actively dealing with the ever-approaching death. He dislikes the prospect of decay; he wants to be able to decide for himself when he dies. ‘The other day I met my new family doctor.

My first question was: how do you feel about euthanasia?

At home, he already has the drugs lying around, should a doctor still fail.

‘Middel X,’ he says, referring to the chemical promoted by the Coöperatie Laatste Wil (CLW) as a humane means of suicide. That idea gives peace of mind, he says.

‘One of the options’

Not everyone is so well prepared on this day, but almost all those present, especially from the baby boomer generation, share the belief that they may decide their own end, in complete autonomy.

‘They grew up with the idea of being the master of their own belly,’ says NVVE chairman Fransien van ter Beek. ‘And now they want an end of life in their own control.’

Many here have a similar experience: they have seen friends or family die in a terrible way and want to prevent that themselves. ‘I’ve seen up close how someone stopped eating and drinking,’ says Annie Mets (66). ‘That’s horrible. It can take a few weeks.’

She has been a member for 10 years and is seeing the Sarco for the first time. ‘I see it as one of the options, yes, should it come to that.’

Philip Nitschke, the Australian inventor of the Sarco, watches people react to his creation. ‘When I suggested the idea in Switzerland a few years ago, someone said to me: no one in Europe will use a device that will kill you by gas. The association with the Holocaust would be too strong. That doesn’t seem to be so bad after all.

Nitschke (75) emigrated to the Netherlands in 2015, the country where he says there is the most progressive thinking about the end of life. Since then, he has been fighting for more information about self-chosen death. He sells a very popular handbook describing methods of suicide and collects documentation on the subject worldwide.

The Sarco Pod Promises a Humane Death within 5 to 10 Minutes

Since he launched the Sarco as a concept in 2017, he says he receives a daily request from someone around the world to use the device. The plastic sarcophagus should eventually be able to be 3D printed by anyone who wants it. Nitschke: “We put the software online for free. There is also no patent on the design. I have no commercial motive whatsoever.’

Three questions

The third prototype was made in Rotterdam by Iranian designer Javid Jooshesh. ‘We will test on Monday whether everything works,’ says Nitschke. ‘We measure how the oxygen content goes back. And we measure the temperature, pure nitrogen is very cold. It should feel like a cool breeze. I also lie down in it myself – with oxygen in my nose – to experience the sensation.’

It’s an end he says is similar to death when cabin pressure suddenly drops on an airplane and you don’t grab the oxygen mask fast enough. ‘From people who have survived that, we know it gives a slightly euphoric and confused feeling. It doesn’t feel like suffocation. You just fall away.

He plans to test the device on people in Switzerland. There, there is no ban on assisted suicide, as there is in the Netherlands. ‘

We think it should succeed legally, hopefully this year. All you have to do as a patient is answer three questions to determine your presence of mind. Who are you? Where are you? And do you know what happens when you push the red button?’

After that, Nitschke says. ‘You can place the Sarco anywhere, for example overlooking Lake Geneva. You lie down, close the flap, wave a bit more and then press the button.


Sarco @ Login 2023

Sarco @ Login 2023

Sarco goes to Login 2023 @ Vilnius, Lithuania (May 2023)

In May 2023, Philip Nitschke presented a keynote address at the future tech conference Login2023 in Vilnius, Lithuania.

As soon as this presentation is available online, the link shall be posted here.




Sarco Project – August 2022 Update

Sarco Project – August 2022 Update

Sarco Project – August 2022 Update

The Sarco Project is an integrated plan to use new technologies to alter the experience of death. The goal is to place the person who wishes to die center stage with unrestricted control of the process. In particular the project aims to remove any need for any specialized or medical involvement.

There are several components to the Project:

  •  Construction of a 3D printed Sarco to provides a peaceful hypoxic death
  • Programming of Sarco Raspberry Pi software to allow access to the machine
  • Development of AI screening to ensure those seeking access have mental capacity.
  • Development of an implantable switch for those anticipating mental capacity loss.

This update provides information on the current state of each of these components.

  • Construction of the 3D printed Sarco

Sarco#1 and Sarco #2 have been 3D printed but are non-functioning. Sarco #1 will be towed to Geneva on a special trailer in mid September and go on public display as part of OpenEnd 2 “Renegotiation” held @ Cimetiere des Rios opening Thurs Sept 15.

Lessons learnt in the construction of #1 & #2 have been incorporated into the production of Sarco #3 which is the device to be used in Switzerland. Sarco #3 has been printed in Rotterdam and is currently being assembled. Some of the specialised components needed in construction are yet to be delivered – eg the vacuum moulded Perspex canopy and cantilever hinge mechanism. Once assembled the unit will receive professional finishing before being moved to our Hillegom laboratory where instrument testing, imaging using a thermal camera, and gas analysis will take place. This is expected to be completed by late October and the machine will be available for inspection at this time.

  • Programming of Sarco Raspberry Pi software to allow access to the machine

Control software that requires the person seeking to use Sarco to answer 3 basic questions before activation has been written for the incorporated Raspberry Pi processor. The questions that need to be answered are 1) Who are you? 2) Where are you? and 3) Do you know what will happen when you press the activation button inside Sarco? Answers are provided verbally and by text and recorded before relay activation of Sarco power takes place. A number of programming errors have delayed completion of this part of the project although this should be resolved by the end of September. •

  • Development of AI screening to ensure those seeking access have mental capacity

This is considered an essential part of Sarco Project as it offers the possibility of removing the need for a medical professional to carry out the essential assessment of mental capacity in a person seeking death. The goal is to develop the test that will provide a functioning 4 digit key that will give 24 hours of access to the Sarco startup.

There has been very little support for the concept of AI assessment from the large number of psychiatrists contacted for advice on this project, indeed considerable skepticism has been expressed. Some preliminary programming has begun based on advice from experienced AI developers and some form of elemental screen incorporating a mini mental state cognitive assessment and a set of questions to assess insight will be functioning in 2023.

The absence of this part of Sarco project will not delay the planned use of the device. In the initial stage the assessment of mental capacity will be carried out by the more traditional means, using psychiatric review.

  • Development of an implantable switch for those anticipating mental capacity loss.

This part of the project is essential for those who are experiencing a real or expected decline in mental capacity from dementia or other disease. At present the only strategy offered to address this is the completion of a witnessed advance directive that, in some jurisdictions, allows legal assistance to die even for those with no capacity. This is an unsatisfactory solution.

A programmed implantable switch that can be activated while one has capacity and designed to end life after a preset period, unless reset by the owner, offers an important solution. Currently the project has stalled, beset by a number of practical problems.

Two simple strategies are being pursued:

  • Programable de-activation of the auto defibrillation function of some implanted pacemakers.
  • The use of an implanted RFID chip preset to activate (for example) a Sarco.

Open End 2 – Geneva 2022

Open End 2 – Geneva 2022

In March 2022, Sarco was invited to exhibit as part of the Open End 2 Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland.

Held at the Cimetiere des Rois (cemetary of the kings, established in 1482 for those who died from the plague), Open End seeks to provoke discussion about ‘the flaws of human nature, between avarice and anxiety about finitude, sometimes opening up new sustainable horizons, progress is also the field of all possibilities’.

The theme of Open End 2 concerns the confrontation between energy-intensive technologies and the collapse of resources, and chooses the dual theme of immortality and the environment.

At the heart of the race towards modernity, contradictory movements collide. Huge investments are feeding the new ultra-technological sectors, capable of both the best and the worst.

It is clear why Sarco – with its futuristic, forward-looking aesthetic – has been invited for exhibition.

The exhibition opens to the public on Friday 16 September and will run until 31 January 2023.

Further details (in French) at OpenEnd2

Nowy Theatre, Poznań Poland 2022

Nowy Theatre, Poznań Poland 2022

During April 2022, Sarco took centre stage in the play, ‘Right to Choose’ at Nowy Theatre in Poznań, Poland.

Directed by Piotr Kruszczyński, Right to Choose is a play by German playwright and lawyer, Ferdinand von Schirach who is perhaps best known for his play, Terror.

Titled Gott in its native German, ‘Right to Choose’ takes as its starting point the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court from February 2020, that everyone has the right to a self-determined death.

With the help of experts, the play’s Ethics Council discusses the question of whether doctors have to fulfill the request of a suicidal patient.

As in Brecht’s Epic Theater, it is said the audience should form an opinion.

This Kruszczyński production is the Polish premiere of the play, which has proven popular in European theaters and TV stations.

The Polish cast include: Bożena Borowska-Kropielnicka, Antonina Choroszy , Marta Herman, Małgorzata Łodej-Stachowiak, Daniela Popławska, Agnieszka Rożańska, Maria Rybarczyk playing the roles of experts standing before the Ethics Committee, with Aleksander Machalica in the main role as the participant in question.

Sarco creator, Philip Nitschke outside the Nowy Theatre, Poznan, July 2022


Peaceful Pill eHandbook February Sarco Update

Peaceful Pill eHandbook February Sarco Update

The Peaceful Pill eHandbook – 2022 Essentials Edition features a revised Chapter on Sarco that details all the reader needs to know, both now and for the coming year.

The Sarco Chapter answers the criticisms/ questions that have arisen in the mainstream media over recent months. Especially since the story of Sarco’s so-called ‘approval’ in Switzerland went viral in the global media.

The Sarco is an exciting, futuristic project that needs to be contemplated and understood before firm conclusions can be drawn.

In the Peaceful Pill eHandbookEssentials Edition, one can read how Exit expects the Sarco to be used in Switzerland later this year.

More information about the Sarco can be found at

Read the Sarco Blog

Sarco Opens in New Exhibition

Sarco Opens in New Exhibition

Sarco is now on display in a new exhibition at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel Germany until February 2022.

The Museum for Sepulchral Culture is the only independent institution committed exclusively to cultural and scientific standards that deals with the entire spectrum of the so-called ‘Last Things’, and dedicated to the issues of dying, death, burial, mourning and remembrance.

The mission statement of the Musuem is that ‘through enlightenment, consultation and mediation’ in exhibitions etc.there is ‘the opportunity for a conscious examination of death’.

The Exhibition is titled – Suizid: Let’s talk about it

Of this Exhibition, the Museum says:

Suicide and suicidality are common, but kept silent and stigmatized topics in society. The exhibition presents information, suggestions, challenges and opportunities that reflect a social and personal approach to suicide. With a view to the history of art and culture, humanities and social sciences, and medicine, but above all to the here and now, our goal is to promote public communication on suicide


Sarco@Museum for Sepulchral Culture

From September 2021, Sarco could be found on display at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel, Germany.

The Museum for Sepulchral Culture is a cultural institution of national importance since 1992. It says it is the only institution in the world that is committed exclusively to cultural and scientific standards and deals with death in all its facets.

The museum claims to offer special opportunities to explore, contextualise and communicate these processes.

SUIZID: Let’s Talk About It Exhibition: 10 Sept 2021 – 27 Feb 2022

The Sarco was removed from this exhibition at the request of Exit following universally negative public commentary by the curators and patrons of the Museum.

The museum’s visitors came overwhelmingly from the suicide prevention side of the disciplines of psychiatry, social work and psychology.

Disappointingly, this exhibition (which launched on World Suicide Prevention Day) was curated from the perspective of the traditional medical discourse of universal prevention, than an open-minded dialogue about a person’s right to self-determination at the end of life. Unfortunately, this approach was not made clear to Exit at the time that the invitation.

Sarco is more than a gimmick and should be treated as such.

Opening Night – 10 September 2021

Sarco on display

Gone are the days of a quick entry: masks & covid health passes in hand

Philip Nitschke with Sarco

Listening to the speeches from the overflow room on the Museum terrace Sarco on display

Day of the Dead Dogs in the Museum gift store

Sarco X near ready for Lift Off

Sarco X near ready for Lift Off


Sarco X is almost ready for lift off.

Penultimate lab tests were conducted in the Netherlands on Friday 7 August 2020 & the results are in.

Sarco created an oxygen-free environment in less than one minute.

The oxygen inside the capsule plummeted rapidly from 21% to 0.4% in 50 seconds.

More news to follow as final tests are postponed yet again because of COVID-19!


Sarco@Cube Design Museum 2020

Sarco@Cube Design Museum 2020

During 2020, Sarco was in exhibition at the Cube Design Museum in Kerkrade.

Sarco was on display in the exhibition ‘Verwacht: (Re)design Death’ which highlights ‘Dutch and international design projects related to death and the rituals surrounding it.’

The exhibition ran until February 2021.

Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Dutch lockdown, Cube was closed and then reopened all throughout 2020.

This is alls the more the pity as this exhibition was stunningly staged and expertly curated. Exit congratulates Cube on a sophisticated, beautiful and thought-provoking exhibition.

Cube Design Museum is at: Museumplein 2 6461 MA Kerkrade NL

Opening Night – Monday 10 February 2020

Sarco opening night 4

Sarco opening night 2

Sarco opening night 1

Coffin cakes


Amsterdam Funeral Fair

Amsterdam Funeral Fair

The 3D-printed euthanasia device – the Sarco – was displayed for the first time at the Amsterdam Funeral Fair at the Westerkerk.

‘Sarco’ is short for sarcophagus.

At the Fair a laser cut wood model was revealed alongside a virtual reality (VR) demonstration which let attendees experience the pod in action.

The Sarco provides death by hypoxia, or low oxygen, and is designed to be portable.

It will come with a built-in detachable coffin and its inventors claim that a fully-functioning version will be built this year, after which the blueprints will be published in the Peaceful Pill eHandbook.

Amsterdam Funeral Fair

Philip Nitschke at Amsterdam Funeral Fair

Alexander Bannink explaining Sarco at the Amsterdam Funeral Fair