Home-made helium suicide of man with depression

A father of four had meticulously planned his own suicide an inquest heard last Thursday, June 17 using helium. 46-year-old Joseph Phoenix used a plastic bag, a head band, and tubing linked to a helium bottle.

Before ending his life, Mr Phoenix:

  • planned his suicide to the smallest detail, including attempts not to upset his family and to ensure his body wasn’t found until he had completed his actions.
  • sent a detailed email was to Kent Police, saying where to find the body in the apartment, as well as information on keys and a letter detailing his next of kin.

The Coroner ruled that Mr Pheonix took his own life while suffering from a debilitating mental illness. It is understood that this included severe depression and bi-polar disease.

The combination of severe depression and bi-polar disease is one particularly associated with suicide. Persons suffering with such such disease include several celebrities that have ended their own lives, including Sylvia Plath, Kurt Cobain, and Spalding Gray. Sometimes it can be treated with medication, but the existence of depression or other mental illness is not in itself an indication that suicide is irrational. Exit believes that legislative reform to allow assisted suicide in exceptional cases would make it easier for people to seek unbiased support. In that way, if someone decided to end their life, it would be clear that a) all other options had been fully considered and  b) that if they decided to end their own life it could be done openly, with their family, friends and loved ones with them if they wish, rather in secret. Exit would urge anyone suffering unbearably to seek all possible palliative options before making a decision, but would like to see a light of hope for those individuals for whom their suffering is unrelievable.

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