Forensic Toxicology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 540–541 | Cite as

Pentobarbital use in a decomposed suicide

  • Adam Covach
  • Dan Isenschmid
  • Carl J. Schmidt
  • Avneesh Gupta
Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

We recently had a case with interesting toxicology results that we felt merited publication in the literature to bring attention to what could become a trend. While a similar case has been published recently [1], ours presented some unique learning points not otherwise covered.

The decedent was a 37-year-old white male, who was found unresponsive in his locked apartment in a moderate state of decomposition with skin discoloration, bloating, bullae formation, and skin slippage. He was seated and leaning over the back of a chair at a desk. The desk had a handwritten last will and testament and a bottle which contained a clear liquid. Autopsy did not reveal any signs of trauma, foul play, or obvious cause of death. Toxicology was sent; however, due to the state of decomposition, only liver, spleen, and cavity fluid were able to be sent to NMS Labs. The liver was positive for pentobarbital (190 µg/g) and metoclopramide (which could not be quantitated due to sample matrix...


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no financial or other relations that could lead to a conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The anonymity of the deceased has been totally preserved. This article does not contain any studies with living human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


  1. 1.
    Melo P, Costa P, Quintas MJ, Castro A, Tarelho S, Franco JM, Texeira HM (2017) Pentobarbital in the context of possible suicides: analysis of a case. Forensic Sci Int 274:109–112CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Levine B (2013) Principles of forensic toxicology, 4th edn. AACC Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hangartner S, Steiner J, Dussy F, Moeckli R, Gerlach K, Briellmann T (2016) A suicide involving intraperitoneal injection of pentobarbital. Int J Legal Med 130:1217–1222CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    American Society of Health System Pharmacists (2009) AHFS drug information 2009. AHFS, Bethesda, p 2578Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Giroud C, Augsburger M, Horisberger B, Luccini P, Rivier L, Mangin P (1999) Exit association-mediated suicide: toxicologic and forensic aspects. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 20:40–44CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Humphry D (2002) Final exit: the practicalities of self-deliverance and assisted suicide for the dying, 3rd edn. Dell Publishing, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nitschke P, Stewart F (2017) The peaceful pill handbook., 2017. Accessed 21 Dec 2017

Copyright information

© Japanese Association of Forensic Toxicology and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wayne County Medical Examiner’s OfficeDetroitUSA
  2. 2.NMS LabsWillow GroveUSA

Personalised recommendations