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Karen Stern’s Final Exit
October 29, 2007, Kingman, Arizona

By Richard N. Côté / dickcote at earthlink.net

Karen Stern, a vivacious 53-year-old,
guitar-playing singer and writer of loopy,
infectiously funny songs, died on the morning of
October 29, 2007, in a motel in Kingman, Arizona.

She had informed the front desk clerk about 7:00
a.m. that she would be checking out that day.
When she had not done so by 11:00 a.m., a motel
staff member went to her room.  Karen was found
in her bed, neatly dressed, with an empty tank of
helium gas nearby. She had committed suicide in a
gentle, painless way by breathing pure helium,
which rendered her unconscious within a minute or
two and dead within five or ten minutes. The
hotel immediately called 911, but the paramedics could do nothing to help her.

A native of the Northeast, she had chosen
Kingman, Arizona, as one of her temporary
sanctuaries in the last several years. Its dry
climate offered some relief from the severe
effects of the two baffling and exhausting
afflictions from which she had suffered for many
years: Morgellons Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue
and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS).

According to the CFIDS Association
(www.cfids.org), “Chronic fatigue and immune
dysfunction syndrome, also known as chronic
fatigue syndrome (CFS), myalgic encephalomyelitis
(ME) and by other names, is a complex and
debilitating chronic illness that affects the brain and multiple body systems.”

Morgellons Syndrome is equally baffling to
science. The Morgellons Research Foundation
(www.morgellons.org) found that although some
patients did find physicians willing to help
them, “many patients reported feeling abandoned
by physicians unwilling to investigate their
illness. These patients tried valiantly to find a
modicum of relief in the face of an otherwise
ineffective medical system.” Karen, who spent
years intensively researching her ailments,  was one of those patients.

Numerous doctors could not alleviate the
increasingly tortured existence she had lived for
the past several years. As her conditions
worsened, and life became progressively more
unbearable, Karen consulted numerous experts on
the subject of suicide, and had received
extensive advice on how to find the strength to
live, as well as how to put an end to her pain
peacefully, should she choose to do so. She spent
an enormous amount of time conducting research on
how to achieve a rapid, painless death.
Ultimately, she chose the helium method because
it was recommended in the world’s best-selling
suicide how-to book, Final Exit, by Derek
Humphry, and because the supplies could all be
obtained locally, legally, and without having to involve anyone else.

35 Responses to “Checked into motel, used helium to die peacefully”

  1. John says:

    The article states she breathed pure helium, but is the helium in party kits pure helium?

    Yes, it is as pure as you can get, and it is lethal in an enclosed space. — ERGO

  2. woodman says:

    I am new here. I am in the market for a helium tank and found a couple of places that sell them. One tank can blow up 30 balloons, the other 50. My concern is money. Would the tank that can inflate 30 balloons be enough for self deliverance? Anybody?

  3. dogsrbest says:

    i’m new here. i had non hodgkins lymphoma. i have a sevre/profound hearing loss. i have sjogrens syndrome, ataxia , nueropathy and am loosing my vision. i reley on my sight so much in order to understand what people are saying. i’m also in so much pain. my doctors can’t seem to understand i don’t want any agressive treatment i only wish to be comfortable. i’m an artist so my vision loss is doubly frightening. there isn’t anything they can do to cure any of my disabilities. that’s basicly why i started looking for sites like this. has anyone had any dealing with compassion and choice? has anyone ever read the book ‘exit house’?

  4. gabriel_g37 says:

    I too have suffered from severe-chronic CFS, had radiation treatment as a child which gave me hormonal problems that mainstream medicine failed to cure as well. Plus now I had an accident 3 months ago which has made my leg permanently crippled/ruptured 60% of the muscles and I’ve been told it and the agonising pain /disability it causes me despite the strongest pain killers are permanent. I so want to die peacefully as described above, it is beautiful to end such intense suffering.
    But I am concerned to do it correctly and yes my mind does wonder if I will have unpleasant drowning sensations if I use the helium method or some such. Surely a hood is more unpleasant than breathing from a mask ?

  5. ergo says:

    Using a face mask with the helium method of self-deliverance from unbearble suffering will almost certainly be blown off the face as the gas turns on.

  6. Catsratz says:

    Six years’ ago, I bought a big helium tank from a party supplies store and got the medical mask, etc., on. I checked and my voice was squeaky. Hours later, I woke up with the mask still on and the helium all used up and a bad headache.

    I do wish there was something painless, quick, sure and legal instead of this horrible social stigma that forces one to choose these complicated and hit-or-miss methods.

  7. ergo says:

    A face mask does not work in the helium method of self-deliverance. It works only with a plastic bag over the head, secured at the neck, with the pipe running in. Properly done, this method delivers brain death within 3-4 minutes.

  8. DLeif says:

    In using this method, a person really will be rendered unconscious before feeling any pain?

  9. ergo says:

    The helium method is entirely painless.

  10. garval says:

    I am wondering whether in the helium method instead of a plastic bag, it is possible to use a full face mask, like the ones used by scuba divers or fire fighters.

  11. ergo says:

    As I have said before, the face mask either does not fit, or blows off. Not recommended.

  12. ergo says:

    Perhaps a fireman’s mask would work, I don’t know, but how would the average person get hold of such a mask, anyway. Surgical masks both leak and blow off when the tank is turned on.

  13. ergo says:

    I don’t have any idea about fire fighters masks; anyway, how would an ordinary person get one?

  14. ergo says:

    How could ordinary people obtain a fireman’s full face mask? Whether it works or not has never been tested.

  15. bookofnicodemus says:

    I’ve been having a hard time ascertaining whether or not there are consequences to killing yourself in a motel. Are your survivors charged any fines by the motel?

    Also, I want to thank you for all your work.

  16. ergo says:

    No fines that we have ever heard off. But a generous tip to the surprised staff is tasteful.

  17. lacskdr says:

    I think helium method certain with plastic bag. my friend has obtain a drug called Na Pentothal – a injection which use to patients to be unconscious at the operation theater. I think after injecting that solution person will be unconscious within 30-45 Seconds. then we can open the valve of the helium gas tank. Is this method much better not to feel him any pain?


  18. rislox says:

    Does anyone know what happened to the place that used to sell the $50 helium hood. I ordered one in 2008. I have been living with my folks since I am single and gotten cancer in 2005. They cleaned out the side of my garage where the mask was stored in a box. It was so light they probably thought box was empty. I go into my dingitas folder and had the old address for Nu-Life Products, P.O. Box 1546, Lolo, MT 59847. Letter just came back “Return to sender. Not deliverable as addressed. Unable to forward.” Anybody know if nu-life started up under a new name, where they can be found? 2)Has any other company come up with a new helium hood? Thanks, Michael

  19. ergo says:

    The only place currently supplying the helium hood kit is GLADD Group, 3755 Avocado Blvd, # 166, La Mesa, CA 91941. Orders by mail only. The cost is $60 US and it comes in a little plain box. No orders taken by email or telephone. This is NOT an ERGO project, but we know it to be reliable and current.

  20. dr3811 says:

    There is a lot of info on mask type but what if you have a tracheostomy and don’t breathe from your mouth. How does this effect the equipment and setup? Is it covered in The Final Exit? Just bought but not received. Thanks for all you do ERGO.

  21. ergo says:

    I doubt if the helium hood method would work with a person with a tracheostomy. Apart from that, masks do not work because either they don’t fit properly or more likely, blow off. Only a plastic bag secure at the neck works in this method.

  22. twadger says:

    Sorry if this is totally the wrong thread to raise this, but do you think a car would be a sufficiently enclosed space if two tanks were fully released into the open air inside the car? (Obviously all windows fully closed, goes without saying, but no hood, just the car itself as the space limitation.)

  23. ergo says:

    It would not work because helium is only lethal when it is pure — as
    inside a small plastic bag. Your car idea absolutely not recommended for
    self=deliverance from a terminal or hopeless illness.
    — ERGO

  24. ergo says:

    The car idea would certainly fail because helium is only lethal when it is pure, which would be impossible in a motor car. A mixture of helium and oxygen might leave a person severely injured.

  25. IsoTao says:

    Helium rises, it is lighter than air. Pumping helium into a bag would cause it to inflate…and continue to inflate. What prevents the bag from exploding- which could not only cause injury, but would surely prevent a peaceful death from continued lack of oxygen?

  26. ergo says:

    In 13 years, and knowledge of 100s of cases, the helium hood has never been known to explode.

  27. JR21 says:

    I am trying to find all the information I can on this method and am going to try to get a hood from GLAAD. Does anyone know how I may find someone who would be willing to sit with me for a bit? I understand someone not wanting to be with me when I pass, but it would be very nice to not be alone for a bit at the end. Sadly my family does not understand that I do not want to be a feeble, invalid in my early 30’s, I would rather go now while I still have some portion of my vision, can use the restroom on my room and have a bit of mobility and have maintained my mental capabilities. I want to be remembered that way and leave with dignity. However, I am still human and would like a friend at the end. I have none how. I very much appreciate any information. I do have a bit of money, not much, but enough for a plane ticket if I should need to travel out of town to have someone sit with me.

    Thank you.

  28. ergo says:

    Suggest you contact the Final Exit Network to see if they will help.
    GLADD was raided and shut down by the FBI so that’s not a help. You can get a pamphlet on “How to make your own helium hood kit” at the ERGO Bookstore. It’s an edocument.

  29. james4321 says:

    Face masks will work, but you need the right type! Go here, and figure it out!

    Do NOT use medical masks, oxygen can and will diffuse into them!
    Use an airline respirator. A half-mask will work.

    No atmospheric gases will enter the mask, assuming you fit the mask on tightly. A half mask can be used, which fits over just the nose and mouth. SARs usually have a tube that has an attachment point specially designed so that it will only connect to supplied air hoses, which in turn will only connect to supplied air tanks. This was done to prevent accidental deaths due to hooking up to an inert gas accidentally, something that has occurred many times. Now this system can be circumvented by using a design like “SAR->Special Breathing Air Hose that Connects to Mask->Gas Delivery Tube with Soft Connections->Gas Regulator(15L/min)->Gas Tank”.

    For reliability, it would be wise to choose nitrogen.
    Good luck in your travels kindred souls!

  30. CJ5400 says:

    I want to “hire” a trustworthy person who will come in a hotel room or camper van with discretion and will remove the plastic bag and cart off helium tanks in a large piece of luggage. I am thinking I am covered by a blanket and the person only needs to reach under the blanket and cut the plastic away, then remove everything. I do not want this person to be trouble with the law and be charged with anything.

    Recommendation on how I can discreetly hire a person who will do this?

  31. ergo says:

    ANSWER : Not wise to think about this ‘hire’. It is a crime to interfere with a dead body
    There have been such charges in recent times.

  32. Leria98 says:

    How much helium is required for it to be successful? I’m in the UK and upon searching for Helium cannisters it only allows to buy a cannister which is the recommended amount for up to 50 balloons. Would this be a sufficient amount? I’m also concerned about the purity of the in the description it states “Disposable Helium Canister – with enough Helium Has to fill Filled in The UK with High grade Helium (over 98% Pure)” of course it doesn’t say 100% but it says over 98% would this still work?

  33. ergo says:

    REPLY : a 50 balloon tank/canister is lethal provided it is carried out the best known ways.
    Helium at 99% is lethal, but not the 80% tanks most used in toy balloon inflation. Nitrogen is an alternative. Examine methods in FINAL EXIT 2020, download Ebook, at https://www.finalexit.org/ergo-store

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