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Police warn of new suicide trend that uses chemicals

Date Posted: 2008-05-06

Hydrogen sulfide is catching on across Japan as a chemical of choice for committing suicide.
A man in Okinawa died of hydrogen sulfide fumes, too late to be saved by alert neighbors after they smelled the foul odors and called police. The incident has prompted Okinawa Prefecture Police to become strongly involved in warning people of the dangers. When police and rescuers responded to the central Okinawa housing area in March, they donned masks and air cylinders to enter the home.
Inside, they found a sign on the man’s bathroom door saying “Very poisoned gas is coming out”. The man’s body was on the bathroom floor. Even with respirators and air masks, one of the rescuers suffered shortness of breath but recovered. Neighbors had smelled the odor from hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs, and called authorities. Firefighters warned the neighbors to get away from the area, moving upwind.
Prefecture Police say they’ve already learned of seven cases of people inquiring about committing suicide using hydrogen sulfide, and have ordered internet providers or management companies handling internet sites to remove the suicide sites. Police say internet sites say “let’s commit suicide by hydrogen sulfide,” and warns “If anybody sees a suicide site, or other harmful sites, please let us know.”
Community officials say “this scandal is so big, it’s circulating around young people because of the internet.” They predict the phenomena will increase in Okinawa, and say “we have to think about how to respond, and must check the internet more.” Police warn residents to be aware of the hazards of hydrogen sulfide, and if they smell it, to immediately move away from the area and notify authorities.

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