Helium suicides rising after promotion on internet

Helium inhalation promoted by internet suicide and euthanasia sites is becoming a significant factor in Australian suicides. In an article in the Journal of Forensic Sciences reviewing suicide in Australia from 1985 to 2009, researchers report that there were no deaths from helium for the first 15 years. But there were 30 between 2001 and 2005 and another 79 between 2005 and 2009. “Given the availability of helium and the recent promotion of this method of suicide, it is quite possible that this may represent a newly emerging trend in suicide deaths,” they write.

The overall rate of suicide has not changed in Australia or Sweden – it is the leading external cause of death in Australia -- but death by suffocation with helium may be preferable to hanging or other methods, as it is “relatively simple, fast, non-disfiguring, and painless”. It is also very hard to detect.

“If the plastic bag and other materials have been removed, and in the absence of an impression or ligature mark caused by fastening a plastic bag around the neck, the cause of death may be incorrectly attributed to coincidental underlying disease.” ~ Journal of Forensic Sciences, Mar 1


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