As the Mayor of Claycord notes in his report on the likely suicide of an 18-year-old Pleasant Hill man Thursday, the manner in which he took his own life—by mixing together chemicals and exposing himself to the toxic fumes—is becoming increasingly common.
According to the Contra Costa Times
, Marcus Dominic Flamiano mixed toilet boil cleaner and lime sulfer
, a commonly used insecticide, and shut himself in the bathroom of a Golf Club Road apartment. Those chemicals combined produced hydrogen sulfide. That was the odor that emergency responders detected and that prompted a shelter-in-place and the response of hazardous materials specialists.
This method of “detergent suicide” has become the subject of worldwide news reports, and according to this 2008 Wired report
, this suicide fad—if you can call it that—apparently originated in Japan. This photo shows Japanese police officers in protective gear entering an apartment in southern Japan in April 2008. A Japanese girl had gassed herself to death by mixing laundry detergent with cleanser, creating fumes that sickened 90 people in her apartment house. As Wired
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.
This report notes instances of “detergent suicides” in the United States in the past year:
–In August 2008, 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.
–In December 2008, emergency workers in Bartow County, Georgia, found a similar scene
: inside a car—along with a body—were two buckets containing a yellow substance. A note on the window said “Caution” and identified the chemical compound by name.
Now, do we add Marcus Dominic Flamiano and his death in Pleasant Hill’s Briarwoods Apartments to this list?