Sunday, March 15, 2009

New danger to Emergency Services

From Wired: Dangerous Japanese 'Detergent Suicide' Technique Creeps Into U.S.

A suicide technique that mixes household chemicals to produce a deadly hydrogen sulfide gas became a grisly fad in Japan last year. Now it's slowly seeping into the United States over the internet, according to emergency workers, who are alarmed at the potential for innocent causalities.

At least 500 Japanese men, women and children took their lives in the first half of 2008 by following instructions posted on Japanese websites, which describe how to mix bath sulfur with toilet bowl cleaner to create a poisonous gas. One site includes an application to calculate the correct portions of each ingredient based on room volume, along with a PDF download of a ready-made warning sign to alert neighbors and emergency workers to the deadly hazard.

The first sign that the technique was migrating to the United States came in August, when a 23-year-old California man was found dead in his car behind a Pasadena shopping center. The VW Beetle's doors were locked, the windows rolled up and a warning sign had been posted in one of the windows. Police and firefighters evacuated the shopping crew before a hazmat crew in chemical suits extracted the body and began cleaning up the grisly scene.

Then in December, emergency workers responding to a call at Lake Allatoona in Bartow County, Georgia, found a similar scene. Inside the car — along with the body — were two buckets containing a yellow substance. A note on the window said "Caution" and identified the chemical compound by name.

Nobody connected the cases until last month, when a Texas surgeon realized that a new and dangerous suicide method was making the rounds. Dr. Paul Pepe, chief of emergency medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, warned emergency workers that they could become innocent casualties of the technique if they're not careful. Other experts agree.

That is just crazy but if they were really sane would they be trying to kill themselves?

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