The call comes in for a body in a car. No lights and sirens.
The address is at the end of a long dead end road. We go as far as the ambulance will take us, then get out behind the two police cars, and trudge though the snow. A hundred yards ahead, we can see the officer standing by the snow-covered car, but then he turns and waves his arms to get our attention. “Stay there!” he shouts.
He says something to the second officer who has just reached the car, and then the second cops starts walking back towards us.
“Been dead awhile,” the officer says. “There are placards in the windows saying there are hazardous chemicals inside. (The other officer) got of whiff of ammonia. We’re going to call a HazMat team in. It looks like its one of those internet death by chemical cases. We just had training on it. Someone wants to off themselves, they mix some chemicals in a bowl. It makes hydrogen sulfide and poof they’re dead. They put placards in the windows to alert rescuers.”
I have never heard of this, but my partner says he has. We get in the ambulance and back down the road aways to the turnabout, and stage there.
More cops and firefighters arrive. And the official call goes out for the full Haz Mat team. After an hour we are relieved by a commercial ambulance so we can go back to covering the town.
It is many hours until the scene and body are decontaminated enough for the medic to run his strip and call the time.
Here’s some information on this increasingly common type of suicide in case you find yourself outside a car with a body inside and placards in the windows.
Ada County Sherriff;s Office Emergency Responder Safety Bulletin
Suicide Fits Disturbing Trend
Dangerous “Detergent Suicide” Technique Creeps into the United States