In recent years information about suicide with helium has spread rapidly on the Internet, in print, and even on video. Increased awareness of this suicide method means that instead of turning to a physician for aid in dying, some people will terminate their lives with this nonpharmaceutical method. Although there are many case reports of hypoxic suicide by helium inhalation, little is known about the pathophysiology of this type of death.
Pathologists should know what hypoxic suicide looks like. Carefully planned, autonomous suicides present possibilities for passive, naturalistic observation of the phenomenon. This article describes a method for direct observation of suicide and reports on 2 hypoxic suicides from inhalation of helium inside a prefilled environment.