How did Steven Holcomb survive his suicide attempt?

He’s talking about it in the media, so I hope he won’t mind…

From the link above, Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb once attempted suicide (he was going blind, he got better after a medical procedure) by taking 73 sleeping pills and washing them down with a bottle of Jack. He apparently slept it off (no pun intended).

My question is: How? I realize he’s not a small guy (231 lbs, from the internet), but it seems like that many pills would kill a horse, even without the whisky.

So, is Mr. Holcomb just exceptionally lucky, does he have the world’s best liver, or is 73 sleeping pills not really all that much.

Obligatory suicide reminder: If you’re having suicidal thoughts, please get help. I know people that have attempted it, and they have all regretted it. Their families regretted it more. Get help.

Wouldn’t it depend enormously on the chemistry of the sleeping pills?

Were they homeopathic sleeping pills?

The article says 73 sleeping pills washed down with Jack Daniels. That could mean 73 Xanax washed down with a 5th of jack, or 73 diphenhydramine washed down with a couple swigs. I imagine it makes a huge difference on which it may have been. Is is even possible to overdose (to death) on benedryl? I guess every substance has a fatal dose, but I’m guessing it’s pretty damn high for Sominex.

Admittedly, I know squat about the chemistry of sleeping pills, aside from they didn’t help me sleep on that one red-eye. They just always come with a warning about “no more than 2”, hence the question.

I haven’t found anywhere online what it was he took. The NBC coverage seemed to indicate it was an entire bottle, so I assume standard size.

Well, that’s the other factor. Famous people tend to have easy access to the fun drugs, and plenty of chances to build up tolerance to them. Maybe he had gradually bulked up his liver enzymes…

Alcoholics can drink doses of ethanol that would be fatal to anyone else, opiate addicts can consume incredible quantities of oxycontin or morphine. There still are physical limits, but they can be really high.

It depends on what those pills were. There are some where 3 or 4 can be fatal, and others where you’d choke to death on them before you ingested a fatal dose.

Benzodiazepines are actually not as lethal as one would presume. (The saying I used to hear was that the only reliable way to kill yourself with benzos is to buy two tons of pills and drop them on your head.) Narcotics such as secondal, etc. are much more deadly, but doctors rarely prescribe them nowadays.

Ironically, OTC pills such as benadryl can indeed kill you with the right amount – that’s how my cousin went out.

Sorry to hear about your cousin.

As to the OP’s question: I would assume he threw up in his sleep. That’s common, apparently, especially after taking lots of alcohol with the OD.

Let us assume that the sleeping pills were Ambien, since that is the most popular. LD 50 in animals is 600mg/kg. Maximum available dose is 10 mg. So 60 pills per kg. Times, oh, 80 Kg. is way more pills than you can swallow.

So, easy to believe.

Compare this with Secobarbital, the most common sleeping pill in the days of suicide by sleeping pill. LD50 is 3 grams total for an average adult, and it is available in 100 mg capsules, 30 thirty, plus a bottle of Jack would almost certainly do you in.

And it is really hard to kill yourself with carbon monoxide as well, with the low emissions of modern vehicles.