Suicidal Nitrogen Inhalation by use of Scuba Full-Face Diving Mask

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A 29-year-old man was found dead lying on the bed in a hotel room in a famous Slovak mountain resort. He had a full-face diving mask on his face, connected through a diving breath regulator to a valve of an industrial (nondiving) high-pressure tank containing pure 100% nitrogen. The breath regulator (open-circuit type) used allowed inhalation of nitrogen without addition of open air, and the full-face diving mask assured aspiration of the gas even during the time of unconsciousness. At autopsy, we found the typical signs of suffocation. Toxicological analysis revealed 94.7% content of nitrogen in alveolar air. Following the completion of the police investigation, the manner of death was classified as a suicide. Within the medico-legal literature, there has been only one similar case of suicidal nitrogen inhalation described (1).

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