January 22, 2019

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Suicides by Household Chemicals

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement, Fire

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for law enforcement and firefighters.

Lingering vapors and residues can seriously injure or kill officers and firefighters who respond to the scene.

Today’s tip is about the dangers of suicides carried out using household chemicals. 

We’ve talked about this before. It’s worthy of more discussion because of the great risk to first responders. 

Suicide by inhalation of hydrogen sulfide gas is becoming more common. Anyone can make the gas by mixing household chemicals together. Releasing the toxic fumes into a small and unventilated space like a car or closet causes death by asphyxiation. 

The lingering vapors and residues can seriously injure or kill officers and firefighters who respond to the scene. 

Be alert for some clues of chemical assisted suicide on unexplained death calls, or whenever you encounter an unconscious person in an enclosed space or vehicle.  

You could smell a strong odor of rotten eggs. You might also find a note or sign designed to warn first responders. You might see tape over windows or vents that might have been used to seal the fumes inside. Look for buckets that look out of place. They may contain chemicals or liquids you can’t easily identify. Be wary of empty chemical containers, like pesticides or kitchen or bathroom cleaners. 

If you think you might be dealing with a chemical suicide incident, slow down. Stay back. Keep others out. And call for the HAZMAT team. They have the equipment and training to help resolve the situation safely. Make sure you are not walking into a toxic and deadly environment. 

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off. 

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