Least Painful 'Natural' Way to Die.

I don’t think it is too difficult to ascertain the least painful medical way to die. An overdose of barbiturate should do it.

But there is something I have always wondered. What is the least painful, purely “natural” way to die? Because all the ways I at least know of are pretty painful. Is there indeed any natural way to go that is (or is “relatively”) painfree?


P.S. Don’t worry. I’m not “planning” something;).

How are you differentiating “medical” and “natural”?

Poppy overdose is the least painful I can think of. Poppies are natural.

A doctor friend of my parents’ has told me that when it’s time to go we are generally so stuporous that we don’t know what’s happening to us.

I mean by disease. I’m not talking about ingesting something from the plant kingdom (although actually, I can see how under certain circumstances, that could be called a disease too). But for now, let’s not include plant deaths.

Sorry, Floater. I think we double posted:).

Someone who actually knows what they’re talking about may come in and tell me I’m wrong, but I figure anytime someone dies in their sleep it’s probably pretty painless- my reasoning that death preceded by significant pain would wake the person.

An aunt of mine died in her sleep while fairly healthy and not particularly old. She had an irregular heartbeat for her whole life, this ended up being the cause of death (as described to me by family, I didn’t do my own research nor did I speak to any medical professionals).
So, I’m guessing it was probably SADS???
Folks who know better than me: Dying in one’s sleep as a result of SADS- a painless death?

Oh, I get it now! Sorry.

I believe a massive hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurism is generally considered painless, if it happens fast enough. The blood pressure drops so quickly that the brain doesn’t really get the message before it’s starved of oxygen and dies. The pressure of a developing aneurism can be painful, though, depending on where it is and how slowly it forms, and some aneurisms (abdominal aortic aneurism in particular) don’t always rupture quickly enough to cause instant death, and those hurt like a sonofagun. Sudden intense pain in the front of the breastbone and radiating to the back between the shoulder blades is a red flag to look for AAA.

So your best bet is to hope for a quick brain aneurism. Of course, it’s awfully hard to ask the guy if it hurt after he’s dead, so there’s an element of guesswork in answering this question.

Jumping off of the sheer face of Half Dome and landing on your head? Anything that terminates brain function before pain can be perceived will be painless, and this (a rapid dismantling of one’s brain) ought to do it.

Sudden cardiac arrest - either during waking hours or during sleep - ought to be painless. Your heart just stops beating, and a few seconds later you’re unconscious, soon to be dead.

Anoxia is painless; your brain just shuts down. So, after the initial shock and after you’ve overcome the gag reflex and breathed in a lungful of water, drowning would be painless.

This doesn’t work for everyone. Some people have a stronger reflex not to breathe in the water versus the instinct to breathe in when CO2 levels build up in the lungs. For these folks, drowning is considerably more uncomfortable. However, these are also the people most likely to survive a subsequent rescue, since their lungs are dry.

“Cardiac arrest” isn’t so much a cause of death; it’s more of a sign of death – it simply means your heart stopped beating. The question is what caused the heart to stop beating? Heart attacks are terribly painful, according to my brother. If your heart simply stops beating due to a malfunction of the solar plexus, that might be painless.

You can do better than that for anoxia–step into an environment filled entirely with some gas that’s neither CO2 nor O2. People tend to pass out and die before they even realize what’s happening, because (as I understand it) the “No air!” sensors in the body are tied to the presence of CO2, rather than the absence of O2. Two NASA technicians died shortly before the first shuttle launch from this.

Indeed - I had a nasty brush with carbon monoxide poisoning once and all I felt was confused.

If I ever decide to check out, I’ll just tie a big bag of N2O over my head and enjoy the few remaining minutes.

The impulse to breathe comes from CO2 concentration in the lungs. That’s why we don’t feel the need to breathe after we’ve inhaled water (or so they say, though I wonder how they know that.)

My mother-in-law had congestive heart failure. One day she sat down on the couch, sighed once, and was dead. No gasp, no grunt, no moan, no spasmodic jerking, nothing.

Of course congestive heart failure took its toll while she was alive, but at least she died peacefully.

I don’t know about you, but being aware I was going to die soon counts as painful to me.

I know two people who were in the hospital, got up to go to the bathroom,. had massive heart attacks, and were dead before they hit the floor. My father died in his sleep, or while unconscious, only one day after going to a Seder in perfect health. I’d be happy to go that way.

And then there is Nelson Rockefeller …

What about being crushed by a large falling object (like a massive boulder - 5 tons or so)?

If you go from person to puddle in less than a second, would you even have a chance to feel much?

A friend of mine died in his sleep and his gf slept right through his death. The autopsy showed a cerebral aneurysm that ruptured. He didn’t know he had it, and had no antemortem signs.

I’m not sure this counts as “natural” per the OP. a pure N2O environment is hard to come by in nature.

You might find other asphyxiant atmospheres in nature, e.g. a cave in a coal-rich region that’s filled with natural gas/methane, or a volcanic area that’s spewing some other sort of gas (see Lake Nyos, although that was CO2 which is unpleasant to inhale).

As long as it crushes the right part of you, i.e. the brain.

What you’re describing is classically associated with aortic dissection not aneurysm.

A ruptured abdominal aneurysm is a good answer to this question. Or possibly a large bleeding stomach ulcer in your sleep. Basically any quick exsanquination in your sleep.

The best answer though is probably a massive brain stem stroke. Or cardiac arrhythmia like ventricular tachycardia.

From what I understand, walking into a room of pure Nitrogen would be pretty painless. You’d be walking around, feel tired, then pass out and die. Not sure if that’d be considered natural, however.

I believe this must be incorrect, at least in part. According to all I’ve read, there is a nerve center at the base of the brainstem that measures CO[sub]2[/sub] concentration in the blood, and this is the source of the urge to breathe – not the presence of CO[sub]2[/sub] in the lungs.

When you are in a low-CO[sub]2[/sub] and low-O[sub]2[/sub] atmosphere (e.g., at high altitude, or with a plastic bag full of helium over your head), your lungs can still out-gas CO[sub]2[/sub] from your blood, even in the absence of new O[sub]2[/sub] to bring in. This is why you simply pass out quickly, without any sensation of suffocating.

Whether this happens more-or-less naturally (high altitude in an airplane, for example) or artifically (suicide by plastic bag full of helium, for example), this seems like a painless and comfortable way to go. People who have nearly died this way but who lived to tell the tale have said so.