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An Unusual Suicide: Asphyxia by Methane Gas

Rossi, Riccardo MD; De-Giorgio, Fabio MD, PhD; Grassi, Vincenzo M. MD; Pascali, Vincenzo L. MD, PhD; Lancia, Massimo MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 2 - p 83–85
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3182886d4e
Case Reports

Asphyxia by suffocating gases, that is, methane or carbon dioxide, is characterized by the displacement of oxygen from inspired air. Thus, the cells are unable to receive oxygen and, as a consequence, are affected by acute hypoxemic hypoxia. The brain suffers because of the hypoxemic state, the subject become unconscious, and then, respiration arrest occurs, followed by cardiac arrest. This is the physiopathologic mechanism leading to death.

We report a case of a 35-year-old man found dead at home with his mouth containing a tube linked to the domestic methane gas system originating from the wall, sealed with packing tape.

From the Institute of Legal Medicine, Medical School, Catholic University, Rome, Italy.

Manuscript received June 21, 2011; accepted July 25, 2011.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Fabio De-Giorgio, MD, PhD, Institute of Legal Medicine, Catholic University, Largo F. Vito, 1 00168 Rome, Italy. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.