Is this a common occurrence?!? (creative suicide attempt)

I was reading Emergency!, a collection of true ER stories, when I came across one that sounded very familiar. A suicidal patient had swallowed nitroglycerine heart tablets, then repeatedly rammed himself against the wall to make himself explode.

I know I’ve seen this in a Darwin award somewhere- but the doctor who submitted the story in the book was from Virginia, whereas the Darwin guy was from Michigan. That means there were two different people out there who thought nitro pills = dangerous explosives. At least two people, because I could swear I’ve seen this in several “funny idiot stories” collections. I’d take it as some sort of medical urban legend, but the story in the book was submitted by an actual doctor.

Is this a common occurrence? Are there really several people out there who think nitroglycerine will make them explode?

It wouldn’t surprise me. It’s a pretty common plot device in various old cartoons. Of course, those characters also survive being blown to bits, so…

It’s not nitroglycerine but my sister-in-law’s mother killed herself by drinking Drano. Maybe that isn’t a good example because most people would guess that it would work but nobody knows why she chose that option. It is one of the most painful deaths you can have. Suicidal people aren’t usually rational by definition. I knew a girl in high school that took seven regular strength Tylenol pills thinking it would kill her. Of course it didn’t do much of anything. It is very common for suicide attempts to just be a cry for help or the person just can’t get it right until several tries. Some people are just really terrible at it.

There’s a common urban legend that if you hit a nitro pill with a hammer you’ll get a firecracker-like pop and flash. I have no idea whether it’s true, but it sounds plausible. So of course if you take a buncha nitro pills, it’s like swallowing a stick of dynamite, right?

That said, people who attempt suicide will take ANY kind of pill they think will get the job done. Aspirin, acetominiphin, digitalis, Prozac, vitamins – anything that’s at hand.

With the Earth’s population in the billions you can bet on enough misinformed people to account for any whack idea.

I had an ex boyfriend try to commit suicide by horking down about 8 tylenol 3 [tylenol plus codeine] and he was pissed I laughed at him and handed him a box of prunes and told him the worse thing that was going to happen was constipation.

Now if he had horked down 8 of my oxycodones, I would have actually been worried … that and the beer he was drinking would have actually been a lot more dangerous.

Why is this surprising. Take at look at studies that show the level of science literacy in the US, one of the most educated countries. It aint high.

So exploding from a handful of pills probably makes sense to a whole lot of people.

They’re not explosive. You may be able to light them on fire, but there’s such a tiny amount of nitro mixed amid inert fillers that you could hit a whole bottle of them and not have anything happen. The only noise you’d make is from the hammer hitting whatever you had the pills on.

This page says you’d need about 300,000 nitroglycerin tablets to have the equivalent amount of explosive material as in one blasting cap. It’s worth noting that blasting caps are not hugely explosive either - they just provide a kick to set off the “real” explosives. Here’s what happens (or doesn’t…) when you stick a blasting cap into a chicken. There are cheaper ways to get the plastic wrapper off a chicken that won’t scare the neighbors. (From here.)

Twice as many of them and it might have worked…from the acetaminophen rather than the opiates.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if some dimwits tried to expire by eating lots of uncooked rice, thinking they would explode, just as they believe pigeons do after a wedding. :dubious: “Don’t get near me, officer! I’m gonna explode any minute!” :smack::rolleyes:

“Vyv, uh, can you, like, actually kill yourself with laxative pills?”
“I don’t know, Neil, but I’m going to stay and find out.”
[/The Young Ones]

gotpasswords said:

Uh, that picture shows half a chicken. Looking at the photo before it, they started with a whole chicken on the pole. So I would say that the blasting cap did do something - it disintegrated half a chicken.

Ludovic said:

Tylenol has an ingredient to make you throw up if you take too many.

Not in my experience it doesn’t. Tylenol OD is one of the most common causes of liver failure in the US.

from here

Praise God for chickens. The world would be a hell of a lot less funny without them.

Sounds like something the Mythbusters should test. Yes, we all know it won’t work, but I’m trying to imagine the fun they’d have in trying to “recreate the result”.

Mythbusters already tested the defibrillator + nitro patch = fire one. (Busted, FWIW.)

Somebody on this board lost a spouse to Tylenol induced liver failure. It’s very possible to die from it. I couldn’t let this go uncorrected.

I dunno gotpasswords, in the 60’s when living in Phoenix, AZ, I remember PSAs warning kids not to touch blasting caps. They would first show someone touching the wires of the cap, and then a flash of a white screen, and then show stills of kids with their eyes, hands, heads, etc., all bandaged up, some missing fingers…you know the drill. Never saw one as a kid, but later handled one in the office about 20 years later which was to be used for some Navy work. I asked the ordnance guy what would happen if it went off in my hand–turned out the PSA was pretty accurate. You’d survive, minus some body parts. I guess an M-80 could do the same thing, but there is a difference between detonation and deflagration.

Tylenol != acetaminophen. Tylenol is only one brand of acetaminophen. I don’t know if it has anything in it that would induce vomiting, but it’s very possible it does, while people are dying from other forms of acetaminophen such as that mixed with opiates.

Huh?? Tylenol = acetaminophen the same way Tylenol 3 = acetaminophen + codeine or kleenex [(R)] = facial tissues. I’ve never been aware of anything other than acetaminophen in Tylenol. I have performed HPLC chromatography on Tylenol tablets and haven’t seen evidence to indicate that there’s anything else besides acetaminophen and inert binder.