A 25-year-old woman in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu killed herself over the weekend by inhaling helium while covering her face with a plastic bag.
The woman, identified as T Indhu, was discovered dead inside a bedroom at her parents’ home in the city of Erode Saturday night, newspaper the Times of India reported.
Indhu, who worked at a software company in Chennai and was visiting family at the time, had her face covered with a plastic bag when she was found, according to A Shyamala Devi, the police deputy superintendent of Gobichettipalayam.
She inhaled helium through a small gap using a pipe attached to a cylinder, authorities said.
Indhu purchased the helium online on Sept. 12 and had it delivered to her parents’ home instead of her dela residence in Chennai, claiming that the gas would be used to fill balloons, according to police.
Authorities retrieved the body and sent it to the government hospital in Perundurai for postmortem.
The reasoning behind Indhu’s alleged suicide remained unclear.
Before the discovery of her body, Indhu had locked herself inside the room and told her family not to disturb her since she wanted to rest for some time, a report by Republic World said.
Gobichettipalayam revenue divisional officer Divya Priyadarshini has initiated an inquiry since Indhu died four months after she married her 27-year-old husband, Vishnu Sarathy.
The single breath of helium is typically not lethal, but it can lead to effects such as nausea, lightheadedness and fainting, according to Healthline.
However, the inhalation of helium can still cause death since the gas displaces oxygen in the body.
Oxygen deprivation can cause loss of consciousness within five to ten seconds. It can aslo lead to irreversible cerebral damage within 60 seconds, according to a study published in late July.
Suicide by helium inhalation has become increasingly common in Europe and the US because it produces a quick and painless death, researchers said.
“Helium inhalation can cause painless asphyxia, which is very attractive to a potential suicide victim, as well as the availability of the gas and equipment,” they explained.
If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours, every day.