How did Dr. David Kelly die?

According to what I read in news reports, Dr. David Kelly seemed to have tried to kill himself with over-dosaging himself on painkillers. It seemed not to be working fast enough for him; so he slashed the blood vessesl in his left wrist, and bled to death.

My factual question is: how does a person die with loss of blood, namely, the blood draining out of his body.

Which is preferable: electrocution, beheading, shooting oneself in the head, poisoning oneself, lethal injection, or bleeding oneself to death: in terms of pain?

Susma Rio Sep

My impression about dying from blood loss is that one’s blood pressure gets lower… and lower… and lower… until eventually the heart can’t circulate the blood. Its pumping doesn’t do any good. This is speculation; what I do know is that before you die, your body does everything it can to raise your blood pressure. Basically, it sucks fluid out of other tissues and dumps it into your veins. Also, your kidneys, which control blood pressure, jack it up.

I’m sure that beheading guillotine style is painless. I suspect the right kind of poison, as in downers, is nausea-inducing though not strictly painful. Some poisons like strichnine and arsenic are horribly awful, though.

According to Cecil, "less than 2 percent of U.S. suicides use cutting or piercing devices to do themselves in. Firearms and explosives are the “in’ means these days, accounting for more than half of all male suicides and almost a quarter of the females.”

Shooting yourself in the head should probably be painless if you do it right, and it’s also quicker than any of the other deaths your mention. Poisoning (or ODing on pills) takes time and people sometimes die miserably after reconsidering. Wrist-slitting is probably not for the squeamish.

I doubt it’s easy to compare pain, but dying slowly is not something most people want. I’ve seen much debate over how painful it is to die by lethal injection: some say that the chemicals prior to the actually lethal injection knock you out and prevent you from feeling any pain. Others say that the chemicals cause your heart and all of your muscles to seize up, and as such dying this way would be amazingly painful. I’m not sure who’s telling the truth - as you can imagine, the info I’ve read splits along pro-/anti-capital punishment lines.
Dying by electrocution (which is falling out of favor, as it as apparently considered less humane than lethal injection) is fairly quick if done properly.
Cecil says “a high-voltage alternating current surges through your body for two or three minutes–typically starting at 2,000 volts at 5 amps, with the voltage varied periodically. Your muscles will instantly contract to a state of absolute rigidity, causing your heart and lungs to stop immediately. Some medical observers go so far as to say your blood will boil. If the guards have been careless and bolted you in too loosely, an arc may jump from the electrode to your body, searing your flesh. If you’re lucky, you die promptly. If not, you get another jolt.”

Of course, that’s when it goes right. In a few well-publicized cases - like those of Pedro Medina and Jesse Tafero - electrocutions have gone very wrong and death has taken several minutes.

Oh, I should add on that page I linked to, there are links to three photos of Allen Davis following his electrocution. They’re less than pleasant.

I’m not sure how anyone could debate the ‘pain’ of lethal injection as nobody who has been subjected to it is around any longer to decribe their experience. I would be very careful of anyone claiming to know the ‘pain’ of lethal injection. It is all supposition at best but the supposition is that it is painless.

From this one might gather there is no pain. Certainly the anesthetic is used in surgery and patients in surgery don’t report experiencing pain form the surgery itself (which isn’t to say they won’t be in pain when they wake up).

Still…who knows if your mind reacts somehow as imminent death approaches? At a guess I would say the inmate feels no more pain than the needle being stuck in their arm as there is no evidence to suggest otherwise and some evidence to indicate it is painless.

Electrocution sucks…there are several instances of the ‘switch’ having to be thrown repeatedly before the person is dead. I also have a vague memory of one person who actually was in an electric chair for execution and for some reason or another survived the process. Admittedly that’s a pretty big assertion with no evidence so I will look for some but it sticks on my mind because the man was asked how it felt and (not a quote) he said something to the effect of excruciating. I’d choose a firing squad or guillotine before the electric chair.

That’s exactly what I’m saying. My experience has been that people who support capital punishment will point to certain data and say that lethal injection is painless, and those who don’t will point to other data and say it is torture.

Before anyone pokes fun at me for this I meant to say people who have experienced surgery don’t report feeling pain during the surgery. The way I had it sounds like the patient is speaking up during surgery which would be a problem in most cases (I know brain surgery patients are often awake and chatty).

This is a total aside but looking at the lethal injection process I have to wonder why they bother with flushing the lines with saline solution. Why would this possibly be necessary? I they worried about a drug interaction that would kill the the inmate before they are meant to die? Seems silly but they do it so I suppose there is a point…just hoping someone can clear that up.

In a column about lethal injection, Cecil writes that in his opinion, “swabbing the arm . . . allows the executioners to think of themselves as professionals doing a job rather than killers.”

If you ask me, though it’s just my opinion, the answer is similar.


Also, it is just possible that something could go wrong, and the exeuction could be delayed. For example, the drugs that kill you may not flow properly or whatever. If this happened then you would not want things complicated by the inmate getting an infection or medical problems from unwashed lines.

I guess Kelley is lucky the wrist slashing worked for the MI5 agent who did him in, or Kelley would have had to beat his head against the pavement or something to finish himself off.