Chemical Suicides AKA *Detergent Suicides*

Chemical Suicides
AKA “Detergent Suicides”
Silver Cross EMSS
January 2015
According to the CDC, suicide is the 10th
leading cause of death in the US and the
numbers have been increasing since
 There is 1 suicide for every 25 attempts.
 Men are nearly 4 times more likely to die
by suicide but women attempt 3 times as
 Chemical suicide originated in Japan in
2007 and started in the US in 2008.
Suicide Stats
Method of suicide being promoted by
some internet sites as “painless, clean
and beautiful”
 How-to Instructions are readily available
 Chemicals are easily obtained
 Increased media coverage will lead to an
increased awareness of additional suicide
Chemical Suicide
80% of chemical suicides have resulted in
injuries to bystanders or responders
 Safe responses to these high risk
emergencies requires basic awareness
and training
 Your questioning of callers and relaying of
scene information, will be important for
first responders
Chemical Suicide
Hydrogen Sulfide, has the highest rate of
occurrence and the most media and
internet coverage.
 Recipes for other toxic gases, such as
Hydrogen Cyanide or Methyl Bromide also
 Other blogs and websites promote
chemical asphyxiates, Helium or CO.
Chemical Suicide
Colorless and smells much like rotten
eggs. It can be detected by the human nose
at concentrations between .13 and 100
parts per million (ppm). At levels above
100 ppm and with exposures from three to
15 minutes, there is a paralysis of the
olfactory nerves, which shuts down the
sense of smell.
Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
◦ Hydrochloric acid
◦ Sulfur compound
Acid and base
◦ Exothermic
◦ Somewhat violent
½ cup of each
The concoction
◦ 1000 ppm
◦ Average sized vehicle or
3,500 cubic feet of a
confine space
Acid Sources
Muriatic acid
Sulfuric acid
Lysol disinfectant
Lysol toilet bowl cleaner
The Works, toilet bowl
◦ Kaboom Shower, Tub
and Tile cleaner
◦ Tile and Stone cleaners
Sulfur Sources
Typical Chemicals Used
Artist oil paints
Dandruff shampoos
Spackling paste
Latex paints
Garden fungicides
Lime Sulfur
Bath Salts
Most cases to date have occurred in
closed vehicles with warning signs left by
 Other documented cases have been in
closets, bathrooms, apartments, dorm
rooms or hotel rooms and some have
been without warning signs. Many of
these resulted in exposure to others,
including first responders.
Chemical Suicide
Exposure and Treatment
EMS respond regularly for reports of a person
unconscious in a vehicle. In most cases, they will find
the driver has a medical issue, is under the influence,
or sleeping. Unfortunately, chemical suicide is
another scenario that can be very dangerous for
responders. Careful evaluation of these types of calls
will be key for responder safety.
Thinking about scene safety!
Subject slumped
over in the vehicle
Suicide notes taped
to the window
Suicide note inside
Yellow or green
residue or haze
Warning Signs / Vehicle
Windows taped
Doors taped
Vents taped up
Occupant wearing
goggles or gloves
Gas cylinders
Warning Signs / Vehicle
Tools used to mix
the chemicals
 Bottles of household
 Containers used to
mix the chemicals
Odor of rotten
eggs or burnt
almonds (cyanide)
Seeping liquids
from under
Warning Signs / Vehicle
If callers relay any of the information that
indicates a chemical suicide, this is to be treated
like a HazMat incident. Notify responders of any
safety issues.
 Advise callers NOT to approach the vehicle or
open doors.
 Advise them NOT to attempt to rescue or do CPR
on unresponsive victims of chemical suicide.
 If a victim is still awake, ask them to exit the
vehicle and move to fresh air. Keep bystanders
away from scene and victim, so they will not be
Questioning Callers
The following pages are taken from the
NIOSH Pocket Guide and has Chemical
Suicide Guidance information for
Dispatchers and Responders. Zoom in or
print out for a better view.
CDC MMWR Sept. 9, 2011
Firefighters Support Foundation
Google Images

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