Nitrogen Hypoxia Suicide Approved in Switzerland

Swiss Info has this story on the approval of capsule for nitrogen hypoxia suicide in Switzerland.

CJLF takes no position on the morality or legality of assisting suicide. This development is worth noting, though, for its relation to the development of nitrogen hypoxia as a method of executing murderers.

Present methods of both involve the use of pentobarbital or related chemicals, which are controlled substances. For suicide, the pentobarbital is swallowed, while for execution it must be injected, which creates additional issues.

Single-person capsules have long been used in medicine for keeping patients in high pressure (hyperbaric) or pure oxygen. As far as the gas part of the mechanism goes, it should not be difficult to adapt one for pure nitrogen.

Opponents like to say, and the press often regurgitates, that execution via nitrogen is “untested.” That is true only in the narrow sense that it has not been tested for the purpose of intentionally causing the death of humans. It has been tested for animal euthanasia. Its affects on humans are known from accidental cases. The effects of hypoxia from reduced total pressure (as opposed to reduced partial pressure) are known to and have been experience by everyone who has had military flight training, including me. It is indeed painless.

So if this pod comes to be widely used in those places where assisting suicide is legal, the “untested” argument, already weak, will be further weakened.