Volume 39, Issue 6 (November 1994)
Suicidal Cyanide Ingestion as Detailed in Final Exit
Final Exit is an “informational aid” advocating the practice of active euthanasia and describing the proper method for the foolproof commission of suicide. Although it has been directed toward assisting the terminally ill patient who desires to terminate suffering, it has been suggested that the widespread availability of this book may result in its abuse. Specifically, there is growing concern that “do-it-yourself suicide manuals” could bring about the fruition of suicidal ideations that are relatively common among mentally ill patients and impressionable adolescents. Described is the suicidal ingestion of cyanide by a physically healthy 30-year-old man. His diary, found next to the body, contains a recipe for suicide copied verbatim from Derek Humphry's Final Exit. Although the decedent's history, the scene investigation, and the external examination strongly suggest an underlying psychiatric disorder, postmortem examination disclosed minimal underlying physical disease. This case graphically illustrates the abuse potential of this literary genre. To our knowledge, this is the first case of its kind to appear in the literature. We recommend that forensic pathologists and medical investigators familiarize themselves with the methods of suicide described in Final Exit.