Hydrogen sulfide (chemical formula H 2 S) is a colourless, flammable gas characterized by a foul odour similar to rotten eggs. Often found in swamps and sewers due to the breakdown of organic matter, it can be prepared in laboratories through several commonly used chemical procedures. Unfortunately, the toxic gas can also be extracted by combining various household chemicals which has made H 2 S easily available for more sinister uses
In recent months, a suicide fad has been sweeping Japan with hundreds of deaths resulting from H 2 S exposure. While many of these deaths were intentional suicides, the deadly nature of H 2 S has led to forced evacuations of entire buildings due to the gas clouds resulting from its use. While the 517 known H 2 S suicides represent only a fraction of the thousands of suicides that have occurred in Japan last year alone, the easy availability of H 2 S ingredients as well as instructions on the Internet for committing suicide using H 2 S have made it an increasingly popular choice. While Japanese authorities have asked Internet service providers to ban sites promoting suicide, success has been limited.