Toxicological analysis after asphyxial suicide with helium and a plastic bag
Institute of Legal Medicine, University Hospital Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany. <>Forensic science international (Impact Factor: 2.14). 09/2007; 170(2-3):139-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2007.03.027
A 23-year-old man was found on a raised hide in lying position, the head wrapped in a plastic bag connected with a helium gas cylinder by a polypropylene tube. The autopsy did not show any specific findings nor did the routine toxicological analysis reveal significant information regarding the cause of death (BAC 0.9 mg/g, diphenhydramine 0.81 microg/ml in heart serum). For the detection of helium in the lungs, gas samples from both lungs were collected by a method ensuring minimal dilution. Gas analyses were performed using a GC-MS with a split-splitless injector and a headspace syringe. As carrier gas the commonly used helium was replaced by nitrogen. Helium was found in clearly elevated concentrations in gas samples from both lungs. Therefore, suffocation by breathing helium enriched, and thus oxygen deficient atmosphere, can strongly be assumed as the cause of death.
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Article: Forensic Science ReviewAnalytical Chemistry 06/2009; 81(12):4695-711. DOI:10.1021/ac9008786 · 5.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Suicide is a significant form of unnatural death and must be differentiated as such from other violent manners of death (homicide, accident), but also from unexpected deaths due to natural causes. The distinction is made on the basis of a careful collection and correct interpretation of post-mortem forensic findings on the one hand, the general background of the case and the criminal investigation at the scene on the other. For competent assessment by the post-mortem medical examiner and/or forensic pathologist, a thorough knowledge of the numerous methods of committing suicide and their pathomorphological correlates is indispensable. This not only includes the constellation of findings and injury patterns typical of suicide, but also unusual manifestations. Highly conspicuous are complex suicides, in which several methods are applied simultaneously, or one after the other, as well as joint suicides and homicide-suicides involving several persons. Certain settings also deserve special attention. Moreover, simulated or dissimulated suicide is a possibility that must always be borne in mind in forensic practice.Forensic Science Medicine and Pathology 02/2010; 6(1):58-70. DOI:10.1007/s12024-009-9120-x · 1.98 Impact Factor