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UPDATE (June 2019) GO TO THE ERGO BOOKSTORE AND SEE THE PAMPHLET (download pdf) ‘How to make your
own inert gas kit’

The Vancouver Sun reported on 8 Dec 07 that the helium in an ‘exit bag’ is new choice for assisted suicide for patients who are dying or suffering from an end-stage incurable illness.

Criminologist Russel Ogden said that at least 19 people
in B.C. have committed suicide by using helium since 1999, according to
statistics compiled for him by the Coroner’s Service of B.C.

Ogden acknowledged that he has no way of knowing whether these people
committed suicide because they had a terminal or progressively
debilitating illness — or because they were mentally ill.

But the figures, Ogden said, reflect a trend in the underground
right-to-die community — which he calls the “death counterculture” —
toward asphyxiation with helium for people ravaged by incurable suffering.

“What these B.C. statistics indicate is that a new method for suicide
has entered the public consciousness.”

Ogden said the technique of asphyxiation by helium inhalation first
gained public exposure in the assisted-suicide community with the
release in 2002 of the third edition of ‘Final Exit,‘ the landmark book
written by Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry, a primer on suicide
and assisted suicide.

Information about the helium option has since been disseminated through
the Internet, including YouTube, and various handbooks, he added.

The helium method basically involves a person placing an “exit bag” over
his head with the helium entering the bag through a tube.

Helium is seen as a swift, highly lethal and painless way to die without
involving physicians or drugs. Helium is also nearly undetectable in
toxicological probes, which is important for people assisting a suicide
because of the potential of criminal charges.

Kwantlen criminologist Ogden said the 19 deaths recorded by the
Coroner’s Service under-represent the number of deaths in B.C. involving

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Ogden, who has researched
the assisted-death movement for many years.

Ogden said the coroner’s service figures only involve cases where
equipment related to the use of helium was found.

The figures don’t include cases where death is assisted by activists who
remove all equipment or evidence so that the death is attributed to an
underlying illness or undetermined causes, Ogden said.

“I have data provided to me by activists in the right-to-die movement
between 1999 and 2002 on over 100 helium-related cases in North America
that were unreported in any forensic literature.”

Ogden said helium inhalation has become the preferred method among
activists in the Final Exit Network, an underground* U.S. group which
helps people kill themselves.

Final Exit is an offshoot* of the much larger Compassion and Choices,
which lobbies for political changes such as the Oregon model of
physician-assisted suicide for dying patients.

The best-known recent case of assisted suicide in B.C. involved Evelyn
Martens, a Vancouver Island grandmother and right-to-die activist, who
was charged with assisting two women to commit suicide.

One of the women, Monique Charest, a former nun, was found dead in her
Duncan apartment in 2002. Evidence at trial revealed that Charest used
the helium method to end her life.

Martens, who was an executive member of the Right to Die Network of
Canada and an agent for “Last Rights” Publications, was acquitted in 2004.

Ogden, who teaches a course at Kwantlen College called “Socio-legal Aspects of
Assisted Death,” said the emergence of new methods such as helium
inhalation don’t appear to spur any rise in the number of suicides.
“What we know is that when a new method is found, people simply change
their methods. The statistical incidence of suicide doesn’t increase.”

The emergence of helium as a method stems from Canadian and American
laws prohibiting assisted suicide — except in the state of Oregon.

“It certainly shows that necessity is the mother of all invention,” said

ERGO-Store: http://www.finalexit.org/ergo-store
for ‘Final Exit’ paperback, DVD, or digital download.

Two Clarifications:
*The Final Exit Network is not an ‘underground’ organization as the above writer says. It is a fully registered group incorporated in Georgia IN 2003. It may not be known to everybody because it does its humanitarian work quietly and with respect. *Neither is it an offshoot of Compassion and Choices.
Visit its website at www.finalexitnetwork.org

56 Responses to “Helium hood method now the way for assisted suicide”

  1. giamouse84 says:


  2. giamouse84 says:


  3. ergo says:

    #1 Two tanks are advisable because in rare instances a tank has been found to be empty. Perhaps it was not filled at the factory, or perhaps somebody tampered with it. The helium in one tank is more than ample for certain brain death.

    #2 Whether a gas control kit is necessary is a matter of personal choice. Hundreds of exits have been made in the US without the gadget.
    Derek Humphry. 4 Sept 09

  4. tlc6 says:

    I just want to thank you for having this blog. I joined Final Exit after being diagnosed with severe chronic fatigue syndrome that has left me housebound. I’ve gone through my life savings trying various treatments that my insurance doesn’t cover. I am unable to work. Nothing helps. It is a very isolating illness and I have lost my will to live. There is no hope for me to get better. I wish I could have someone with me at the end. I have decided to die because this is not the life I want and I want to die before I get worse.

    I’m afraid of dying but it is reassuring to hear that the helium method is painless and swift.

    I didn’t mean to write so much. I’m just glad there is a place to get information so I can carry out my wishes.

    Thank you.

  5. tlc6 says:

    Two questions. Is there a certain size helium tank? Where do I get the hood or can I use a plastic bag?

    Thank you.

  6. ergo says:

    The details are in ‘Final Exit’ paperback or ebook
    http://www.finalexit.org/ergo-store or in bookstores or libraries

  7. lisa-w says:

    I recently bought a copy of Final Exit, and I found it a very comforting and uplifting read – thank you very much for writing it. I’m sorry if this is a daft question, but if the terminally ill person has no one present to turn off the helium gas, and no means of regulating it, is there a risk that the flow of gas will eventually cause the bag to split and therefore thwart a successful deliverance?

  8. ergo says:

    Only 4-5 good gulps of pure helium are sufficient to achieve complete brain death, inside 4-5 minutes, so if the gas is still running it would begin to leak at the throat, but the patient would already be dead.

  9. ergo says:

    These details are in the DIY handbook ‘Final Exit’
    This highly effective method of self-deliverance from terminal or hopeless illness requires careful planning and testing in advance. In the US, hundreds have used it.

  10. lisa-w says:

    The information and diagrams in Final Exit are most informative for the terminally ill. I was just concerned about the potential splitting bag issue leaving the job half done. If the bag is very secure at the neck, I thought there may be a risk of eventual rupture before the body is as dead as the brain. Perhaps it would be better if the terminally ill person used one of the balloon-filling tilt valves that requires finger pressure, then simply allowed their hand to slip once they had passed out, so the flow would then stop? It’s difficult to know what the best approach is for someone acting on their own.

  11. ergo says:

    In hundreds of cases, I’ve never heard of a bag splitting under pressure from these blow-up toy balloon kits.

  12. ergo says:

    Details are supplied in the DIY handbook ‘FinalExit’ and its Addendum.

  13. erika says:

    So as of todays date, are you still able to get the hood kit from glaad? And if so about how long does it take?

  14. ergo says:

    Yes. But how long it takes is not ERGO’s business.

  15. ergo says:

    Yes you can, but they’re busy.

  16. AKA says:

    I am planning a trip to Mexico City to search for Nembutal. I have reac to search in the suburbs of Mexico City. I have gone on line and there are many suburbs in Mexico City. I was wondering if anyone had any news on any particular suburbs where vets may sell Nembutal?

  17. bruno says:

    Please folks THINK!!!

    (1) you can go to any of hundreds of companies (like Air Gas Inc)
    that sell industrial gas containers for industry. They sell oxygen, helium, argon, carbon dioxide, and hundreds of other products used in the industrial world.
    (2) I purchased a 24 inch high gas cylinder. Cost: 150 usd
    (3) Same container with Helium cost 20 usd more
    (4) Industrial flow meter (that attaches to tank) 120 usd

    That plus a plastic bag is all u need.

    The costs were very reasonable considering you have all industrial grade equipment and you need not toy around with the ridiculous so called party ballon kits. Those party ballon kits are an invitation to distasterous results. If you are going to do something in life
    please do it to the best of your abilities and in this context it means
    spending a bit more to get (forgive the pun) a bullet-proof setup.

    Do research on the Internet and use your brain to distinguish
    the intelligent responses from those that are (to me) obvious
    unintelligent and downright ignorant pieces of advice, etc.
    Good luck.

  18. ergo says:

    All balloon helium inert gas tanks are NOT mixed with air. If they were, they would be useless in industrial purposes, which is the main market. The most reliable is the big world supplier Worthington Industries. I can’t speak for the UK, but in America the party balloon helium tanks can be bought over Amazon.com, as well as party and toy stores.

  19. lucy1000 says:

    Thank you for your response.

    Does anyone from the UK know, whether industrial suppliers of helium will sell to the common man, or do they need some kind of license?
    I would be very grateful for this information

    thank you

  20. ergo says:

    A person can get the helium tanks from a toy store, a party store, and (at least in the USA) via Amazon.com
    The large industrial tanks would take a lot of strength to move around.

  21. DMBatista says:

    My very ill friend successfully completed her final exit using the information from the Final Exit book about a week ago. The helium cannisters were the party pak ones purchased from a local store and she used a turkey roaster bag and the elastic element was an athletic headband. She did opt for the t-valve so that only 1 tube was taped inside the bag. Everything worked exactly as stated in the book. There was lots of planning. Two comments: 1. As she pulled the bag over her head she said it’s cold…. assume she was referring to the helium. Might be something for people to know about to be prepared. 2. The helium ran out about 15-20 mins after she started, but before she was dead, so those present ( but not assisting) had to trust that was normal, that she had inhaled enough breaths of pure helium, and that this was normal and not to panic Another little point of detail.
    Otherwise I am so grateful she had this option as her pain had become unbearable. I am hoping laws change during my lifetime so end of life planning can be more inclusive of family and friends which helps eliminate uninformed fears about death.
    Thank you again for your work.

  22. ergo says:

    When the method is properly carried out, with perfect equipment, nobody can live more than 4-5 minutes inside the hood (plastic bag). There must have been a leak in the Batista case above.

  23. usamidori says:

    this was posted Wikipedia and i found it reassuring in terms of addressing my fear of the feeling of suffocation.

    A suicide bag, also known as an exit bag, is a device consisting of a large, clear plastic bag with a drawstring used to commit suicide. It is simple to make at home or can be bought over the internet. It is usually used in conjunction with an inert gas like helium or nitrogen, which prevents the panic, sense of suffocation and struggling even when unconscious (the hypercapnic alarm response) caused by the deprivation of oxygen in the presence of carbon dioxide. It also makes the method of death difficult to trace if the bag and gas canister are removed before the death is reported.


  24. ergo says:

    Obviously the person still alive after 15/20 minutes was not carrying out the self-deliverance carefully.

  25. ergo says:

    Nonsense that a person could still be alive after 15/20 minutes if the self-deliverance via the helium hood method was being carried out properly, by the book. I speak with knowledge of hundreds of cases by my colleagues throughout the right-to-die movement. It is best not to pay attention to wild, anonymous, individual claims on the internet; some are deliberate mis-information by opponents of euthanasia.

  26. ergo says:

    There is no ‘gasping’ or ‘suffocating’ if a competent, terminally or hopelessly ill adult is carrying out self-deliverance carefully in the proper method. Coma then death comes so fast there is no going back and there are no sensations of choking; it is brain death. Beware of wild stories put on the internet by strange individuals who were just playing at dying or trying to make trouble.

  27. ergo says:

    None of the sensations mentioned below.

  28. Mister says:

    I have asked http://www.balloontime.com
    How long the lifetime of a Heliumcylinder is.
    I asked “If I do not open the tank and keep it from rusting,
    how long will the helium all stay inside?”

    This is the reaction I got today:
    “Good afternoon,
    Balloon Time has no “best-before-use” date. I personally have kept the cylinders in my home for use for over a year with no problem but that is my person experience.
    Katrina Ann Knee Pimenta
    Worthington Cylinders
    Customer Service Manager
    Regional Balloon Time sales Manager
    Phone: +351-256420444
    Fax: +351-256420459
    cell: +351-917545576
    Rua da Granja 530
    Vale de Cambra 3731-901
    Visit our site!

    After that I asked further.
    This is what she said then:

    “We do not have evidence for or against the helium staying inside the cylinder for a specific amount of time. Sorry I am not able to give you specific information on this.
    Best regards,
    Katrina Ann Knee Pimenta
    Worthington Cylinders”

    But mostly her words:
    “Balloon Time has no “best-before-use” date.”
    are very interesting to me.

  29. nadir says:

    Question about the helium tanks used for party balloons. The tanks I’ve used usually have a valve that required the user to bend to release the gas into the balloon, when the user lets go the valve closes. How does one get around this when using the tank with a hood?

  30. ergo says:

    The answer is within the illustrated instructions in ‘Final Exit’

  31. Al Dav says:

    In answer to nadir’s question, don’t worry the valves can easily be removed with pliers in about 10 seconds. The instructions on this question in “Final Exit” are 100% accurate.

  32. Al Dav says:

    I have some very current feedback on ordering the GLAAD hood. Living in the same state within 100 miles as the GLAAD address, I mailed $60 cash to them on a Monday and received the hood two days later on Wednesday. This means that they received the order Tuesday and turned it around that day.

    It came complete with all the tubing and elastic neckband. When testing the tubing for its fit with the recently purchased Balloon Time 8.9 cu ft tanks, it fit perfectly snug with no adjustments needed.

  33. dee says:

    is it still possible to purchase from Glaad?

  34. ergo says:

    Yes it is.

  35. gart says:

    ergo says:
    March 1, 2009 at 9:53 am
    Any size of tank which reliably supplies about five gulps of PURE helium is effective.
    Dear Ergo,
    I have the means to procure a small tank (similar to a scuba diving spare air tank), which could provide the equivalent of 57 breaths. To be precise, it could have the following specifications:
    Capacity: 3 square feet (approx. 85 litres)
    Pressure: 3000 psi/200 BAR

    Would it be possible to use this small tank, instead of the bulky tanks available via Party Shops?

  36. gart says:

    Dear Ergo,

    In response to a previous comment, you gave the following answer:
    ergo says:
    March 1, 2009 at 9:53 am
    Any size of tank which reliably supplies about five gulps of PURE helium is effective.

    I have the means to procure a small tank (similar to a scuba diving spare air tank), which could provide the equivalent of 57 breaths. To be precise, it could have the following specifications:
    Capacity: 3 square feet (approx. 85 litres)
    Pressure: 3000 psi/200 BAR

    Would it be possible to use this small tank, instead of the bulky tanks available via Party Shops?

  37. poppy says:


    Firstly I just want to say thank you so much for this blog, and all your hard work. It has been so comforting and inspirational for me.

    Having suffered from a terminal illness for several years, I am now preparing for my own final exit, and I have now ordered a copy of the “Final Exit” book which I understand will give me full instructions on how to carry out the helium bag method. However, I was wondering if you could tell me what size of helium cylinder to order (how many litres will I need)?
    I am feeling really nervous about all of this, because I want to be absolutely certain I get it totally right and don’t mess it up. Please offer any words of comfort and support/advice that you can!

    Thank you.

  38. rbccmrn says:

    On the T connections, some places sell them barbed and others sell smooth T’s, any particular one? It just states T connection in the book Final Exit, 3rd edition. Barbed would hold the tubing on but will it fit in the tank? Sorry for such questions but want to make sure.

  39. ergo says:

    Cannot reply to problems set up by someone else. Please read ‘Final Exit’ for reliable informtion.

  40. ergo says:


  41. ergo says:

    gart –
    Good point. Will try to clearer.

  42. ergo says:

    gart — all three inert gases are equally lethal, helium being the more easily available.

  43. ergo says:

    GLADD is very much a going concern. If a person wishes, send $60 US to
    GLADD Group
    3755 Avocado Blvd # 166
    LA MESA CA 91941

    They cannot be contacted by internet or telephone. D H

  44. ergo says:

    The rubber nozzle can be twisted off with a strong hand, or with pliers if need.
    Inside is a brass nozzle; leave that alone.

  45. guillaumedefrance says:

    First, thank you for your work..
    Living in France, I would like to know if i could and where buy an exit bag. I am not really confident about the sport headband, and i am wondering about the method shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feNz_0QWM6w Is it the good way to build it by my own?
    Thank you

  46. ergo says:

    Nothing wrong with that how-to make a bag video — so far as it goes! There’s a lot more to it than that!
    And he seems to be making a bag for death by suffocation in 30 minutes with a bag tied at the neck. Much more effective is the helium hood method described and illustrated in ‘Final Exit’
    It produces coma in 4-5 seconds and brain death in 4-5 minutes. But needs careful planning and preparation.
    The helium hood kit (not the 2 tanks) can be obtained for $60 USD from GLADD Group, 3755 Avocado Blvd # 166, La Mesa, California 91941.

  47. wolfbitch says:

    ergo… what i keep gettin from you is that you just want us to buy the friggin book.. are on a percentage?

  48. ergo says:

    You seem not to realize the assisted suicide is a crime, but my books are
    legally safe under the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. Currently, there are 8 volunteers of the Final Exit Network awaiting trial or sentencing in Arizona and Georgia.

  49. gart says:

    Dear Ergo,

    I tend to sympatise with ‘wolfbitch’ in that sometimes your answers sound a little bit like advertisement for your book. Disappointment could be avoided should you let us know that you cannot directly answer a question because of legal reasons and if possible, why. Just a suggestion!

    Talking of books, I bought the Final Exit on DVD 2006. Could I ask you: 1. Other than the format and the date, obviously, what are the main differences with the print version, and 2. Have there been any updates on the DVD?

  50. ergo says:

    Please understand that assisted suicide is a felony everywhere. Even in Oregon, Washington and Montana it can ONLY be carried out by doctors, according to legal rules. Therefore the book ‘Final Exit’ is — in all other cases — the valuable informational tool because it has 1st Amendment free speech protection. That’s why I emphasize the book.
    Be aware, also, that the FBI and particularly the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are watching closely for any ‘assisted suicide’
    cases. There are still 8 volunteers of the Final Exit Network awaiting trials in Georgia and Arizona for alleged assistance in suicides
    with the trials probably next year.
    On your second point, there are no changed methods between the DVD or the 2010 version of the book, only updates on dates and names.

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