Chemical suicides on the rise. This new suicide phenomenon began in Japan in 2007. Japanese authorities have reported over 2,000 cases of chemical suicides. Chemical suicides, also known as detergent suicides, involves the mixing of household chemical to create a deadly gas. Authorities in the United States, reported only three chemical suicides in 2008. The number increased to 30 in 2010. In total, 72 chemical suicides have been reported since 2008. Authorities note, that these statistics may be entirely inaccurate, as they believe, there may be a large degree of underreporting.
Pierce College criminal justice professor Bob Brzencheck has cited that these household chemicals are very accessible. He added the numbers speak for themselves. Professor Brzencheck also cites the dangers imposed on first responders who respond to these chemical suicides. In 2011, a man in Kingston, Pa. crashed his vehicle after mixing the deadly cocktail in his car. Five responding EMS units were required to be quarantined, and eventually the entire hospital had to be quarantined.
Last Sunday, a 22-year old college student from Feasterville, Pa., was the most recently reported chemical suicide. His mother was awakened in her sleep by the smell of rotten eggs in the air. She went downstairs to check on her son. She found a note on the bathroom door. Tragically, it read chemical names and warned that three breaths would kill you. Her son was dead. Emergency responders and hazardous material teams arrived. Residents of the apartment complex were evacuated.
In March 2011, an Irvington, NY police officer was called to respond to a report of a man slumped over inside a car. As the police officer approached the car, he spotted a sign posted on the window, that warned against breaking the glass. The sign also said to notify hazardous material teams. The bomb squad was called, and a robot was used to enter the vehicle. The body was identified as a 24-year old man who had been reported missing.
Chemical suicide involves the mixture of a combination of household chemicals that produces hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S). The gas is colorless and characterized by its rotten egg smell. It is quite deadly. Hydrogen sulfide was used in gas attacks by the British Army during World War One. Hydrogen sulfide gas kills in three different ways. It paralyzes the nerves, asphyxiates, and acts as chemical irritant to the eyes and respiratory system. It can kill in just a few breaths.
in Japan, Internet sites post that chemical suicide is a way to die “easily and beautifully.” When the number of chemical suicides reached epidemic proportions, government officials tried to persuade Internet sites not to post the chemical suicide recipe. In one incident, over 350 people had to be evacuated when a 24-year-old man committed suicide using the deadly cocktail in Otaru, Japan.
With chemical suicides on the rise, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has taken notice. They have published a list of precautions to be observed by first responders and even morgue personnel. They include the requirement that a hazardous materials team be summoned. They also warn that the victims clothes may still emit gas for a period of time, and can endanger emergency service personnel.
By John J. Poltonowicz