Nitrogen gas suicide can trigger more such cases, warn experts

New Delhi: The news of a young techie who committed “easy and painless” suicide by inhaling nitrogen gas in Hyderabad has left the Indian health care providers worried. This may lead others suffering from chronic depression and having suicidal thoughts to follow suit, they fear.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Lucky Gupta Agarwal, 33, who wanted a painless death and searched the internet for an easy method to end his life, bought a small nitrogen cylinder and inhaled the gas by using a mask at his apartment.

According to Dr RK Singal, head (internal medicine) at BLK Super Specialty Hospital in the capital, nitrogen gas can prove catastrophic and fatal if inhaled in large quantity because body will be left oxygen-deprived.

"Depending on the dose of nitrogen inhaled, it can lead to full body paralysis to instant death. Nitrous oxide is the most commonly used inhalation anesthetic used in dentistry. In normal dose and under professional supervision, it is acceptable by human body and doesn't prove fatal. But when inhaled in excess, it can certainly knock down both our nervous and respiratory system, as the body gets deprived of oxygen," Singal told IANS.

Singal is worried that the Hyderabad techie's suicide may trigger more such cases. "Depressed people can buy nitrogen cylinders and end their lives. There has to be some tough mechanism on its availability in the open market," he said.

“The human body inhales close to 75 percent as nitrogen from the atmospheric air along with 21 percent oxygen, which is used to sustain life. In case one inhales pure nitrogen, it can result in the individual’s death in a matter of few minutes as it leads to complete lack of oxygenation to the vital organs,” Dr Om Prakash, consultant (anesthesia) at Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), Gurgaon, told IANS.

“The gradual depletion of oxygen, as in this case, affects the brain first and eventually the heart stops pumping blood, leading to the death of an individual. However, if the body is immediately supplied oxygen during the initial process and the person is de-nitrogenated, this condition can be reversed,” Dr Prakash explained.

"I am committing suicide. Nitrogen gas is easy and painless method of suicide. I wish everyone peace and happiness," Agarwal wrote in a suicide note found in his room.

According to Dr Nevin Kishore, head of bronchology and senior consultant (respiratory medicine) Max Super Specialty Hospital in Saket, “It depends on the quantity and the kind of place you are in. If in a closed and packed place, then it might be harmful but in an open place, inhaling nitrogen gas is not fatal because nitrogen is present in the air too.”

Updated Date: Apr 22, 2016 12:29 PM

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