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Zipper bag, helium tank used in Palisades Park suicide, police say

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

EXCLUSIVE: What at first appeared a suspicious death in Palisades Park turned out to be an asphyxiation suicide involving a plastic bag and helium, authorities said.

Police responding to the family’s DOA overnight call today found the 33-year-old 11th Street victim with a zipper bag tied around his head and rubber tubes running to two helium tanks bought at Wal-Mart, Chief Benjamin Ramos told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

Somehow the man bound his wrists in front of himself with zip ties similar to those used by police, the chief said.

The Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death asphyxial suicide, Ramos said. No signs of foul play were found, he said.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office was notified and the county Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification processed the scene. A sheriff’s officer said a similar suicide was recently carried out in another town.

Championed by right-to-die groups, the helium-bag method — or “exit bag” strategy, as it is known — was first publicized in the suicide manual “Final Exit” (1992) by Derek Humphry. The bag is used with a drawstring, cord or Velcro strip in conjuction with helium or nitrogen, which suppress the panic reflex.

For a time, custom-made “exit bags” were available online before governments began banning them.

The Palisade Park man’s father told police he found his son’s body after returning from vacation. The unemployed victim was last seen on April 25, the chief said.

“There was no medical history or anything like that,” Ramos said. “He’d apparently been despondent over not having a job for several years.

“It’s a shame, really.”

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