Volume 49, Issue 4 (July 2004)
Suicide by Cyanide: 17 Deaths
We reviewed 17 intentional ingestions of cyanide that occurred in New York City over a ten-year interval. The toxicologic and postmortem findings were reviewed. Certain occupations and nationalities of the decedents predominated among this group of suicides. Scientists, jewelers, and metal workers were common occupations among the decedents. In addition, 8 of 17 fatalities were West Indian/Caribbean Island and South American decedents, including three decedents from Guyana. Fourteen of the 17 fatalities were male. Pink lividity, a “bitter-almond” smell, and a hemorrhagic gastric mucosa were not prevailing findings in these decedents. A color test was used for screening for cyanide with confirmation and quantitation using gas chromatography.