Not all suicide victims are this considerate...

Chemical Suicides

Erica Goode from the New York Times reported yesterday (06-19-11) that Chemical Suicides are increasing in the USA and that this form of suicide has the potential to affect many, whether it was intended or not. 

In Japan, it's known as detergent suicide, a near-instant death achieved by mixing common household chemicals into a poisonous cloud of gas. By some counts, more than 2,000 people there have taken their own lives, inhaling the gas — in most cases hydrogen sulfide — in cars, closets or other enclosed spaces. 

Law enforcement now say they are seeing an increasing number of similar suicides in the United States, inspired by Web sites that carry recipes for the chemical mix as well as detailed instructions on how to use it. And as in Japan, where the suicides have caused whole neighborhoods to be evacuated and sent dozens of people to the hospital, the desperate and despondent are not the only victims.

Of 72 chemical suicides experts have documented in the United States since 2008, at least 80 percent have resulted in injuries to police officers, firefighters, emergency workers or civilians exposed to the gas, despite the efforts of suicide victims to protect others by putting warning signs on car windows or closet doors, said Deputy Chief Jacob Oreshan of the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, who has been tracking the cases. (Full Story)

Suicide Method Examples Using Common Household Hazardous Materials

A new suicide method has been developed as an alternative to hanging suicide and briquette suicide (carbon monoxide poisoning).You don't have to provide rope for suicide by hanging or make a fire for suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. It is easier than suicide by hanging or by briquette (carbon monoxide poisoning). Only mix 2 kinds of liquids those you can buy at a drugstore or at gardening corner of home center.

[Hydrogen sulfide], a more potent poison than carbon monoxide, can occur quickly.* It is sometimes misunderstood with "chlorine gas", but it is [Hydrogen sulfide], more potently. *You can lose your senses in a second (knock down:painless!!) if you breath [high concentration hydrogen sulfide] over 1000ppm!!!! You can't "knock down" with "chlorine gas"! 

Strong Acid + Calcium Polysulfides = Hydrogen sulfide (H2S)*

If in a bathroom or a car, enough with each 2 litters (about half gallon).*You can use sulfuric acid of a car battery as strong acid, and you can use a pesticide lime sulfur as calcium polysulfides.

It reachs a fatal concentration above 1000ppm quickly.(Please mix in a vessel, such as buckets)

Acid Sources

Lysol(R) Ready to Use Disinfectant (4-8 percent citric and hydroxyacetic acid) 
Lysol(R) Toilet Bowl Cleaner (9.5 percent HCl) 
Sno Bol(R) Toilet Cleaner (15 percent HCl) 
The Works(R) Toilet Bowl Cleaner (15-25 percent HCl) 
Blu-Lite(R) Germicidal Acid Bowl Cleaner (20.5 percent phosphoric acid) 
Kaboom(R) Shower, Tub, and Tile Cleaner (5-7 percent urea-monohydrochloric acid) 
Tile, stone cleaners (1-30 percent HCl) 

Sulfur Sources

Artist oil paints (0-15 percent zinc sulfide) 
Dandruff shampoos (1.0 percent selenium sulfide) 
Pesticides (5-30 percent calcium polysulfides)
Spackling paste (1-2 percent zinc sulfide) 
Some latex paints (6.6 percent zinc sulfide) 
Garden fungicides (5-90 percent sulfur) 

Note: This is not new news. It's just getting to be more prevalent and we all need to be vigilant to protect one another as well as our communities from "collateral damage".

Monday, September 29, 2008, 18:41 - News
Seems the fun never ends! Evidently, suicide by hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas has become all the rage in Japan (the country having the world’s highest suicide rate), and is beginning to catch on in this country). It is very easily produced (accidentally or intentionally) by mixing easily-available household chemicals (specific directions are circulating on the internet, and becoming popular among – you guessed it – adolescents). It is also felt to have some potential as a terrorist weapon.

Hydrogen sulfide is generally associated with the odor of “rotten eggs”, but the body’s ability to sense this smell can be quickly overcome in cases of moderate to high concentrations. Therefore, this odor should NOT be relied upon as an ongoing indication of its presence or absence.

Emergency medical care is generally supportive (responder safety first, followed by ABCs and ALS). Exhaustive decontamination is not necessary if the victim has been exposed only to the gas (that is, has NOT been contaminated directly with the cocktail of liquids producing the gas), and can be limited to removal of the victim from the contaminated atmosphere by appropriately-protected rescuers, and removal of gas-exposed clothing so as not to drag any along with the patient. Liquid contamination will require more thorough decontamination. The patient’s eyes should also be irrigated thoroughly and continuously, even if exposed only to the gas, as H2S is very irritating and potentially damaging to the eyes.

It is also helpful to know that H2S is very similar to cyanide in that it binds to the ferric iron (Fe+3) of the cytochrome oxidase enzyme system, thus inhibiting aerobic metabolism and ATP production. Therefore, early treatment with nitrites, such as the amyl nitrite and/or sodium nitrite found in the older-style cyanide antidote kits, may be effective for severely-exposed patients. Although our EMS system does not feature the field use of these kits, it is very important for EMS personnel to alert Medical Control early-on of the suspected exposure of the patient to H2S so that these agents can be available upon the patient’s arrival in the ED (note: the sodium thiosulfate also found in these kits should NOT be administered to patients poisoned by H2S).

Chemical Overview 

Hydrogen sulfide (HS) -- H2S -- is a colorless, flammable gas that is heavier than air and has the characteristic odor of rotten eggs at concentrations as low as 0.5 ppm. HS poisoning is rare because its odor alerts potential victims to the danger. However, concentrations greater than 100 ppm can cause olfactory fatigue and mislead individuals that the exposure risk has resolved. Toxic exposures most frequently occur in small closed spaces into which the victim enters unaware of the toxic build-up of the gas. 

HS poisoning is mainly encountered within the petroleum, viscose rayon, rubber, food processing, tanning and mining industries as well as in coke ovens and kraft paper mills. In nature, HS is the produced by the organic decomposition of sulfur compounds in sewers, barns, ships’ holds, and sulfur springs. The major route of toxicity for HS is by inhalation. 

At lower doses, local irritant effects predominate. At higher exposures, cellular respiration may cease as HS forms a complex bond to the iron ion in mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase, arresting aerobic metabolism in an effect similar to cyanide toxicity and affecting all organs, particularly the nervous system. 

Sudden death can occur at concentrations >700 ppm. HS may also be absorbed from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and skin, although these are rarely seen. GI absorption is typically seen in victims who ingest it after collapsing from the “knockdown” effect of an inhalation exposure. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established an acceptable ceiling concentration of 20 ppm in the workplace, with a maximum level of 50 ppm allowed for 10 minutes if no other measurable exposure occurs. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends a maximum exposure level of 10 ppm.


Dangerous Japanese 'Detergent Suicide' Technique Creeps Into U.S.

Chemical TerrorismFact Sheet

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This is a very interesting article. Kind of makes me think when pulling up on scene what i could possibly be running into. Also makes me want to take caution when cleaning the showers at the department now, cause we all know the chemical mixture we sometimes will mix up causes that eerie cloud to appear.
Please note that this post has been written with station captains in mind. There is enough information available to put together an easy training class as well as some key products to keep an eye out for. I would recommend keeping this kind of listing of chemicals in a small notebook for easy on scene reference.
Very good information thank you for the information , just one more thing to be looking for on scene size-up and hope we do not have to deal with it .

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