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.