Committing Suicide By Breathing Helium Gas

The closest national park to where I live is called Ridley Creek State Park.  In December, a 44-year-old woman, Teresa Mastracola, was found dead at the park. Now, that’s not so unusual.  There always seems to be a body or two that turns up every year at Ridley Creek.

However, this woman’s death was ruled as a suicide.  How?  By breathing in helium gas.

Now, this sends my spidey senses tingling.  I have a feeling that although foul play is still not suspected, there had to have been someone else involved in this “suicide.”

One of the Darwin Awards books wrote about two people who did die laughing (presumably) when they went into a grounded helium-filled advertising balloon.  Now, in that case, the Darwin Award winners both inhaled and exhaled helium.  There was more helium in that enclosed space than oxygen.  Without oxygen, you die.

But out in the woods, Mastracola apparently inhaled helium but it would have been mixed liberally with oxygen.  Police are not saying if she was found in an enclosed area (like a balloon) and, according to the UK’s Daily Mail (hey — their links don’t go down as often as my local news websites) are “unclear exactly how she committed suicide.”

I was wondering if someone considering suicide would think that breathing in helium gas would be a painless way to commit suicide.  Although some websites (and Final Exit)  state that sticking a plastic bag over your head and breathing in helium gas is “painless” I really doubt it.  When your body is starved for oxygen, your body starts gasping and vomiting (or dry heaving) in a desperate attempt for air.  I found this out the last time I tried to commit suicide.  This was incredibly painful.

I’ve also tried sticking a plastic bag (sans helium) over my head and that turned out to be very painful, too.  Also, your breath causes condensation that trickles down the inside of the bag and onto your skin so the urge to itch is maddening.

There is no painless way to commit suicide.  You might as well live.

  1. Tony said:

    I’ve been giving serious consideration as to how to carry out my final exit. Yes, I would like it to be painless – I’m a wuss. Ive considered roof diving or crashing the car but that would involve innocent bystanders. My other options are purchasing a pistol but I’m not entirely fond of the mess, although it’s been suggested I could wrap my head in a sheet. I’ll figure it out soon…..

  2. I really don’t know of any painless way to commit suicide. If you have a terminal illness, you can ask your doctor for advice. Assisted sucide is allowed in some European countries (not the UK) but the laws keep changing. I hope you won’t need to consider assisted suicide for a long time yet.

  3. you are ignorant said:

    Your assumption that breathing helium gas would be similar to asphyxiating in the ways you have attempted is incorrect. You can doubt breathing in helium is “painless” all you like, but that sense of doubt is grounded in zero actual facts besides your presumptuous hypothesis based on experiences that have nothing to do with breathing helium.

    • Jack Russell said:

      You are not correct. Pilots in training are deprived O2 and test by writing. They pass out in seconds. Not by asphyxiation
      But by not breathing oxygen. They are still breathing, just not the oxygen. I know, I have received the same training. Breathing helium has absolutely no distress, or pain. You just go to sleep. That is it!
      You can find more on this if you search the Internet. It is big in Canada. If I had to go, this is my Final Exit.


  4. Jack Russell said:

    You just need to get a large turkey baking bag and sew a shoelace into the bottom after folding a hem in the bottom where you put your head in. Then run the hose from the helium tank up thr back and tape in place. Find a comfortable chair, and crack the helium tank on slowly. There is more in one tank to do the job. Tighten the string comfortably around your neck. After you crack open the tank relax. You will be asleep in less than a minute with no pain or discomfort. Death will occur in about 4-5 minutes. Painless. Very simple and you will be at rest, with no more problems in this world. I promise this works. If you have a friend that will come remove the bag and tank, you will be ruled a natural cause. I know because I helped a friend of mine. He is buried and helium was never even a consideration! Make sure to have your “frieppeind to remove everything, where it won’t be found. Wiped down for fingerprints. Do not help with the bag, or turn on the gas. You will be charged!! Just get rid of the tools. It is almost impossible to detect helium.

  5. Tim said:

    All I’ve read is Helium is painless.

  6. Actually, from what I read, your brain can not tell the difference between helium and oxygen – so it doesn’t know that its slowly suffocating to death. Hence, all of the panic responses usually involved with suffocation, are usually not present.

    You just drift off, pass out, and go into eternal sleep.

    (Of course, there have been cases of violent spasms and seizures on the way out. But basically, theoretically, helium is delaying this process until you’re mostly unconscious / brain dead.)


    The scariest part about it, is if something goes wrong, and you wake up a vegetable.

    But I suppose that fear is always there, no matter what.

  7. Peggy RICHSRTS said:

    Looks like taking tjose first deep breathes are very important so you pas out and don’t struggle. Peg in Pa

  8. i lost my precious daughter to this method and my heart is broken miss her every day. If only there was proper help and support for people feeling so low and depressed she would not have felt the need to do this

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