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The Increase Of Chemical Suicide In United States And Its Effect On First Responders

1495 words - 6 pages

Chemical suicide is a growing problem all around the world. This form of suicide was created in Japan, but now it is growing rapidly across the United States in recent years. People committing this type of suicide are looking to kill themselves, and also may want to harm or kill first responders in the process as well. This puts a large amount of people in danger in the immediate area where the chemicals are located. These situations might not be clear to first responders upon arrival and could cause injury or death if they are not wearing proper personal protective equipment.
Chemical suicides became prevalent in the United States around 2008. Since then, the number of suicides has been rising faster as the years go by. These forms of suicides started in Japan. There were thousands of cases that were reported involving these chemical suicides. It became a known problem around 2007 and has been steadily rising since then. This form of suicide from Japan became known in the United States through people’s use of the internet. “In 2008 in the United States, first responders responded to three incidents; in 2009, there were nine incidents; in 2010, there were more than 30 incidents.” (Oreshan III/Stevens, 2011). The numbers from 2010 to present day have risen as well. These numbers are only the recorded chemical suicides. There are still a large number of unreported chemical suicides in the United States and the number keeps growing.
“Chemical suicide, sometimes called detergent suicide, involves mixing common household chemicals to create deadly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas, which can quickly reach lethal concentrations in confined spaces.” (Oreshan III/Stevens, 2011). This gas is colorless and also has a very foul smell of sulfur. It is a very dangerous mixture of chemicals and could cause damage to a person’s body or death if there is enough parts per million in the confined area. As stated in the emergency response guide, “Hydrogen sulfide is extremely hazardous. It may be fatal if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. The initial odor can be irritating and deaden your sense of smell.” (ERG2012). These situations are dangerous and have to be treated with extreme caution.
When first responders are responding to a call of possible chemical suicide, they have to approach it with extreme caution and be very aware of the situation. Most of the time at these situations, the person attempting to use these chemicals to commit suicide will post some kind of warning for first responders as well as other people. For example, a situation of chemical suicide in a car, the person might post a sign in the window of the car as a warning to people and first responders on scene. (FEMA.Gov). Although leaving a note or sign to warn people might happen, it is not always the case. Some chemical suicides will not be as noticeable as others. “A chemical suicide in a car can produce levels of 8,000 parts per million in that car. Unless the responder is aware of the...

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