In Asia there has been a rise in suicides associated with charcoal burning. However, this form of suicide can occur anywhere.


The cause of death is carbon monoxide poisoning. The person starts a charcoal fire in a confined space.



(1) Charcoal is inexpensive and easily obtained.

(2) Carbon monoxide poisoning is less violent compared to other forms of suicide.

(3) It seems to have an appeal for young adults.

(4) In some cases there has been a suicide pact between several people, including complete strangers.

(5) Reports in the media have generated copycat suicides.

(6) There may be a risk of fire after the death of the occupants.

(7) The person should be tested for drugs and alcohol.


The atmosphere in the room could be a hazard for first responders without respirators.


The differential diagnosis includes:

(1) accidental death in someone not familiar with the hazards of burning charcoal in a confined space. This could occur in campers or during a natural disaster.

(2) homicide with staged suicide. In this case the victim would not show signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

(3) homicide with the person drugged and then exposed to carbon monoxide


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