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Observation of Two Suicides by Helium Inhalation in a Prefilled Environment

Ogden, Russel D. MA

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 2 - p 156-161
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181d749d7
Original Article

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.

From the Department of Criminology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC Canada.

Manuscript received June 28, 2008; accepted July 19, 2008.

Reprints: Russel D. Ogden, MA, 207 Osborne Ave, New Westminster, B.C. Canada V3L 1Y7. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.