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An Apple a Day Does not Always Keep the Doctor Away…

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The authors describe a case of suicide in the workplace. A 45-year-old man employed by a fruit and vegetable packing company was found dead in a room containing a modified atmosphere for the packaging of fruits and vegetables. The rescue team measured the carbon monoxide (CO) concentration of the ambient air with a digital CO tester and found a level higher than 600 particles per million. Analysis of an arterial blood sample taken with an airtight syringe revealed the absence of CO but high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). Autopsy revealed no significant injury and police investigators found a handwritten note of intent, describing a recent personal crisis. The authors concluded that the cause of death was suicide by asphyxiation secondary to CO2 intoxication and notably oxygen (O2) depletion. This manner of suicide is rare and most cases previously described in the literature were accidental intoxications. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case of suicide by CO2 intoxication and O2 depletion in a room with a modified atmosphere.

Keywords: carbon dioxide; forensic science; intoxication; occupation; suicide

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Service de Médecine Légale, Hôpital de Rangueil, 1 avenue du Professeur Jean Poulhès, TSA 50032, 31059 Toulouse Cedex 9, France. 2: Institut de Médecine Légale et de Médecine Sociale, place de Verdun, 59145 Lille Cedex, France.

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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