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Cleopatra VII committing suicide. Marble, before 1697.

Amitriptyline cocktail[edit]

Carbon monoxide poisoning[edit]

Carbon monoxide, CO, is a toxic, colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. Concentrations as low as 667 ppm may cause death. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and a feeling of weakness.

It can be prepared by burning charcoal in a low oxygen environment. A 1 m oven exhaust tube on a grid, half filled with charcoal and lit will suck air into the bottom where the oxygen reacts with charcoal to form CO2. Further up in the tube there is little or no oxygen left and the CO2 will react with charcoal to form CO (all the charcoal must be hot for this to work). The empty upper part of the tube prevents the hot CO from mixing with air and burning to CO2. CO leaves the top end of the tube. This setup should work in a room with normal oxygen level, but may be mechanically unstable and easily knocked over, potentially causing burns or a fire.

A charcoal grill is made to be more stable, but is less effective in making CO. They have been successfully used for suicide, though.

The intense heat and fumes of burning charcoal can be a problem in a small space.

CO can be made by mixing and heating formic acid or oxalic acid or their salts, with concentrated sulfuric acid.

Old cars without catalytic converter produced CO in their exhaust and were a common suicide method. In modern cars the catalytic converter turns CO to CO2 and makes it hard or impossible to commit suicide. However, the converter must be hot to work effectively, so when the car is started when the converter is cold and the engine is running idle there may be enough CO.

Side effects of CO poisoning may be severe.

Warning signs can help avoid other people to enter the toxic environment.

Chloroquine cocktail[edit]

Cyanide poisoning[edit]

Oral ingestion of a small quantity of solid or dissolved cyanide (e.g. sodium or potassium cyanide, not cyano ferrate) as little as 200 mg, or to airborne cyanide of 270 ppm is sufficient to cause death within minutes. It is accompanied by pain and convulsions.

Darvon cocktail[edit]



Fentanyl is about 100 times as potent as morphine.

"[...] 10 mg of Fentanyl is equal to almost a gram of morphine. This would lead to fatalities in all but the highest of opiate tolerance users."[1]

A common side effect of opiates is nausea and vomiting. An antiemetic might help. Which antiemetic effectively suppresses opiate nausea?

Oral generally has lower potency. Snorting may have higher potency and also avoid rejection when vomiting. How effective is an empty stomach to avoid vomiting?

Injection would eliminate the rejection of oral ingested opiate. i.v. injection would act fastest and strongest.

Fentanyl patches have been smoked [2] so pure fentanyl should be smokable.

Death occurs by respiratory suppression while unconscious and may take hours.

Fentanyl is offered for bitcoins on alphabay, a darknet market accessible via the tor anonymity network. Take care not to buy from a scammer (if you do you may get all or some of your bitcoins back). Take care not to use a fake alphabay address leading to a fake market site. The addresses listed in are probably correct. Shipping across borders is more risky (drug trafficking is highly illegal in most places), but the small amounts needed may well get unnoticed, especially if the vendor uses good stealth.


Carfentanil is about 100 times as potent as fentanyl, but has a higher therapeutic index than fentanyl, so the lethal dose is probably higher than 1/100th the lethal dose of Fentanyl. Carfentanyl is not licensed for use in humans as there are other drugs with better therapeutic properties, therefore the lethal dose is unknown and claims for the lethal dose vary widely. The lethality of carfentanil is well established, though, as there are numerous deaths of users of low quality heroin that has been laced with carfentanil. A good lethal dose is probably somewhere from 1 to 10 mg.

Otherwise carfentanil is similar to fentanyl for the purpose of suicide.

Hydrogen sulfide[edit]

Hydrogen sulfide, H2S, is a highly toxic gas smelling like rotten eggs. Concentrations over 1000 ppm (0.1%) cause immediate collapse with loss of breathing, even after inhalation of a single breath.

It can be prepared by mixing sulfides, e.g. sodium sulfide, Na2S, with acid.

Calcium polysulfide (lime sulfur) has been prepared by heating and stirring calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2, with sulfur powder, S. It is a comparatively weak source of H2S, but has been used successfully. It may be available as insecticide in hardware stores.

Iron sulfide, FeS, can be prepared by heating a well mixed mixture of 55 g fine iron filings or powder and 32 g sulfur powder till it ignites, e.g. in a test tube. Excess sulfur may create more pyrite, FeS2, which may be less reactive with acid. The resulting iron sulfide should be crushed to a powder so it will react well with acid.

Sodium sulfide, Na2S, is very effective. It may be available to make old looking photographs, but due to it's toxicity it may be unavailable.

Sulfuric acid (battery acid) is a good choice to liberate H2S from sulfides, as it does not evaporate. Hydrochloric acid, HCl, works, too, but in concentrated form (35%) it may release HCl vapors, which irritate the eyes and respiration. Vinegar or citric acid work, too, but more slowly.

Goggles can be used to avoid eye irritation by acid or H2S.

1000 ppm is 1 liter H2S per m3, equivalent to 3.6 g FeS or 3.2 g Na2S. The amount of calcium polysulfide is not well defined. Using more than needed, e.g. 10 times as much, may compensate for low quality sulfide (e.g. FeS), slow reaction, leaks or uneven distribution of the H2S.

Warning signs help avoid other people entering the toxic area.


Morphine and heroin[edit]



Suicide method ratings
Reliability (10) 10
Peacefulness (10) 10
Availability (5) 2
Preparation and administration (5) 5
Undetectability (5) 4
Speed of effect (5) 4
Safety to others (5) 5
Storage (5)  4
Total score (50) 44

Pentobarbital (trade name: Nembutal) is a drug from the barbiturate class. It was widely used during the 1940s and 1950s as a sleeping pill (i.e. hypnotic) or anti-anxiety drug (i.e. sedative). Unlike modern sleeping pills, Nembutal is highly lethal in overdose. Because it is very reliable and brings about peaceful death, it is one of drugs of choice for assisted suicide. Nembutal is used by euthanasia organizations in the United States (Oregon Death With Dignity Act), Switzerland (Dignitas) and The Netherlands.

Since it was so easy to overdose on Nembutal (whether accidentally or intentionally), it was almost universally taken off the market and replaced by safer sleeping pills. Nembutal was removed from the Australian prescribing schedule in 1998. However, Nembutal remains in use by veterinary surgeons in order to euthanase bigger animals. Many people were successful in obtaining veterinary Nembutal for their suicide. The famous American actress Marilyn Monroe supposedly used Nembutal to end her life.

The brand name "Nembutal" was coined by Dr. John S. Lundy, who started using it in 1930, from the structural formula of the sodium salt—Na (sodium) + ethyl + methyl + butyl + al (common suffix for barbiturates). Nembutal is trademarked and manufactured by the Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck, and is the only injectable form of pentobarbital approved for sale in the United States.

Comparison to other methods[edit]

Plus sign font awesome.svg
Nembutal is a proven, reliable drug that brings about a peaceful death. Almost no failures are known, despite large statistics (for example, the Swiss euthanasia organisation Dignitas reported 840 exits with no single failure).

Minus sign font awesome.svg
Nembutal is supposedly very difficult to obtain, as its sole remaining human use in the USA is in liquid form for use as a sedative and anesthetic in hospitals. In Europe it is even more scarce. Because of this, no brick-and-mortar or mail-order pharmacy sells Nembutal; any such site that claims to do so is likely fake. Also, veterinary Nembutal is a liquid and not in pill-form, which means that it has a shorter shelf life. On the other hand, Seconal (secobarbital), a short acting barbiturate that is as powerful as Nembutal if not more powerful, is still available in capsule form in the USA and probably the UK. However, it is very rarely, if ever, prescribed.

As a practical matter, Nembutal is not hard to obtain at all for those who have a few (or several) hundred dollars and knowledge of what supplier to ask. Specifically, the Peaceful Pill Handbook has a chapter, Obtaining Nembutal, with lists of trusted suppliers; updates to this list are made available to those who subscribe to the digital edition of the book.

Lethal Dose[edit]

There are a few views available on the lethal dose, all held by medical professionals. They are illustrated below.

  • Dr. Nitschke in his The Peaceful Pill Handbook states, "Administration is a matter of dissolving ~10gm of the powder in ~50ml of water and drinking. . . . . If the powder is analyzed to be pure, and if ingested in the recommended amounts, Chinese Nembutal powder will (not might) lead to a reliable and peaceful death. . . . . The minimum lethal dose is 6gms. If the substance is pure, a purchase of 25gm of 95% pure soldium pentobarbital is more than enough for two adults."
  • In The Netherlands, doctors who offer to help with hastening death, provide a drink with 9 grams of pentobarbital or secobarbital.
  • The research committee of Dr. Admiraal, belonging to a Dutch euthanasia group, deemed that nobody has ever woken up after ingestion of 6 grams of a barbiturate if not tolerant to the drug, provided no vomiting occurred.
  • In the book Departing Drugs by Chris Docker and Cheryl Smith, it is suggested on page 64 that 3.5 grams are the lethal dose of secobarbital. Dr. Admiraal deems that 3.5 grams can not be considered as sufficient to be reliably lethal, but that 6 grams would definitely be the sufficient amount.

Nembutal Sodium Solution[edit]

The most easily obtainable form today is vials of Nembutal Sodium Solution (pentobarbital sodium injection), a sterile solution for intravenous or intramuscular injection, typically used for animal anaesthesia or euthanasia. Each mL contains pentobarbital sodium 50 mg or 100 mg, in a vehicle of propylene glycol, 40%, alcohol, 10% and water for injection, to volume. The pH is adjusted to approximately 9.5 with hydrochloric acid and/or sodium hydroxide. The range of actual pentobarbital sodium in a vial may vary between 3 g to 15 g, although 6 g seems common. The containers come in a clear vial typical for sterile solutions, and should have an untouched protective metal cap if unopened, and be labelled clearly with due date. Dignitas uses a similar solution, albeit with a higher concentration. The solution may be taken intravenously, for very quick effect, or orally, see below.

Nembutal Sodium is a short-acting barbiturate, chemically designated as sodium 5-ethyl-5-(1-methylbutyl) barbiturate.


As far as the authors of this wiki are aware, there were a few reports from alt.suicide.methods members, who said to have purchased liquid pentobarbital sodium in Tijuana, Mexico. This is also backed by the book of Dr. Nitschke, The Peaceful Pill Handbook, which features an extensive part about how to make a successful journey to Tijuana in order to buy Nembutal. We will do our best to bring this section and post parts of it in this page along with people's reports from there.

  • See a video report of one travel published on YouTube: here.
  • There are possible plans to close a Mexican source.
  • A report by someone who went to Mexico: it may be not that easy! Read it here.
  • Some more information from the New York times.

Barbiturate information[edit]

Barbiturates in general[edit]

The barbiturates are non-selective CNS depressants which are primarily used as sedative hypnotics and also as anticonvulsants in subhypnotic doses. The barbiturates and their sodium salts are subject to control under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Specifically, pentobarbital is a Schedule II controlled substance whose illegal possession is punishable by one year in prison for a first-time drug offender, pursuant to Template:Usc.

Barbiturates are substituted pyrimidine derivatives in which the basic structure common to these drugs is barbituric acid, a substance which has no CNS activity (thus, barbituric acid alone would not be lethal). CNS activity is obtained by substituting alkyl, alkenyl, or aryl groups on the pyrimidine ring.

Mechanism of action[edit]

Barbiturates have direct effects on the benzodiazepine-GABAa-chloride receptor complex in enhancing chloride flux, hyperpolarisation of the membrane, and neural inhibitory effects. As opposed to benzodiazepines, barbiturates do not only exert their inhibitory effect through the GABA receptors, but they also open independently more ion channels for chloride influx through the cell's membrane. That is why their inhibitory impact on the CNS is so severe. Barbiturates shut down the reticular formation in the brain, i.e the neural pathways in the brain.

Tolerance and withdrawal[edit]

The prolonged use of barbiturates leads to tolerance. Also, cross-tolerance between barbiturates and benzodiazepines can be presented, since both drugs act through the GABA receptors. Hence, it is suggested that a period of 3-4 weeks of withdrawal can reverse the tolerance and this process is indeed needed for having one's attempt be a reliable one.

Ingestion of the Nembutal Cocktail[edit]

Nembutal, unlike other lethal drugs, may not require any additional drugs. Only anti-emetic drugs must be taken in advance, in order to prevent any vomiting from occurring. This has been partially endorsed by experts in administration of the death penalty, whereby a pure barbiturate method has been deemed less painful and more successful than prior 3-drug approaches and newer concoctions.


However, experts in human anaesthesia and veterinary euthanasia have pointed out that pentobarbital, while an anaesthetic, is not a full analgesiac. As such, coadministration of an appropriate analgesiac may be advisable to completely eliminate risk of perceived pain, although reports of adverse events have been very sparse. Suggestions for analgesics seem unclear at this time. In veterinary euthanasia, a two step approach is favoured, whereby a sedative is given prior to an IV pentobarbital dose. Oral administration is recommended only as a fallback. In the recorded events of adverse events where IV pentobarbital was used for a death penalty, the likely cause was contaminated pentobarbital from a compounding pharmacy, something which should pose a minimal risk when taken orally.

Drug amount
Antiemetic drugs must be taken beforehand  
Liquid pentobarbital (Nembutal) 6 grams (see different opinions below)

Potentiating the cocktail

  • 1-2 grams of Phenytoin (Dilantin) will potentiate the cocktail. However, veterinarians have raised warnings that phenytoin cardiotoxic effects may come into play prior to the barbiturates full anaesthetic effect, and may therefore cause unwanted pain.
Time To Death[edit]

Experience in The Netherlands has learned that after ingesting 9 grams of either pentobarbital or secobarbital, death generally occurs within two hours (see the tables below).

  • Time to death after oral ingestion of 9 grams pentobarbital (102 cases) or secobarbital (21 cases)

Time to death data in the Dutch euthanasia group: 123 cases from A. Horikx, staff member of the Royal Dutch Pharmaceutical Society.

Time To Death Number of


0-15 minutes 39 people (32%)
16-30 minutes 40 (33%)
30-60 minutes 21 (17%)
1-2 hours 9 (7%)
Euthanasia by doctor after > 2 hours waiting 9 (7%)
Unknown time 5 (4%)
Total 123 (100%)

  • Time to death after oral ingestion of 10-12 grams pentobarbital (261 cases)

Similarly to the table displayed above, the following table (mentioned in Guide to a Humane Self-Chosen Death) provides the time to death as reported by the right-to-die organization "Exit deutsche Schweiz" (which literally translates as Exit German Switzerland).

Time To Death Number of


0-15 minutes 70 people (27%)
16-30 minutes 115 (44%)
30-60 minutes 44 (17%)
1-2 hours 11 (4%)
2-12 hours 20 (8%)
> 12 hours 1 (0.4%)
Total 261 (100%)

Overdose effects[edit]

A pentobarbital overdose is an amount taken in excess of that which is medically recommended. Two to ten grams can cause death. CNS and respiratory depression which may progress to Cheyne-Stokes respiration, areflexia, constriction of the pupils to a slight degree (though in severe poisoning they may show paralytic dilation), oliguria, tachycardia, hypotension, lowered body temperature, and coma. Typical shock syndrome (apnea, circulatory collapse, respiratory arrest, and death) may occur.

In extreme overdose, all electrical activity in the brain may cease, in which case a "flat" EEG normally equated with clinical death cannot be accepted. This effect is fully reversible unless hypoxic damage occurs. Consideration should be given to the possibility of barbiturate intoxication even in situations that appear to involve trauma.

Complications such as pneumonia, pulmonary edema, cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, and renal failure may occur. Uremia may increase CNS sensitivity to barbiturates. Differential diagnosis should include hypoglycemia, head trauma, cerebrovascular accidents, convulsive states, and diabetic coma.



See also[edit]