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Gases to Ashes – The Loss of an Institution

If you were to end it all today, which we aren’t suggesting but just to cover the eventuality, would you consider putting your head in the oven? Perhaps one of the more overlooked of the casualties suffered by the advances made in modern times, the idea of gassing yourself in the household oven – and we’re assuming this was the desired result, not to roast or bake yourself to death – would most likely be overlooked today in favour of a more glamorous method.

After you

Looking back, the impracticalities of killing oneself via the cooker are legion: the removal of the shelves to hit enough of your head in; the degrading act of laying your head on a bit of burned-on cheese; the catch 22 of trying to work out how you were going to pay the gas bill if you were unsuccessful. Chiefly though – how on Earth do you ensure the gas goes in you and not everywhere else?


What were you supposed to do? Stuff the gaps around your head with towels? A duvet? How do you manoeuvre your head into the oven for a fairly sustained period of time without the oven door getting in the way? You can’t kneel on an oven door that opens downwards, that would be madness – the glass could cause a multitude of knee scabs. Removal of the door (presumably not that straightforward a feat, doors aren’t known for easily becoming detached from ovens) would solve this problem but still leave the difficulty of taking a stance, presumably on all fours, where you could inhale the gas for a time but most likely find yourself slumping down as the first effects took hold, no doubt dislodging the duvet/towel configuration.

Ashes to ashes

All these considerations were made much simpler in times of yore. The traditional method of creating gas via coal-burning would allow for far more carbon monoxide in the gassy mix, comfortably the most effective inhalant to hurry death along but also one which, if the job wasn’t done properly, to leave you utterly cabbaged for the rest of your days. Unless you have the means to burn large amounts of coal in highly compressed containers to extract the carbon monoxide, you’ll have to make do with ‘modern‘ gas.

Good old tasty gas

Modern gas, the naturally occurring stuff, is inevitably rubbish compared to the old stuff. It’s health and safety gone mad. The extremely determined may succeed but this really is a game for the most patient. Death is via suffocation, a straight forward lack of oxygen bringing about the end, thus putting it in line with suicide by simply holding your breath (despite medical objections that this is possible, we’re certain it must be) and putting your head in the bath (there must be water in the bath or this won’t work).

Bit of a squeeze

Suicide via a gas oven used to be the most popular (yes, popular) method of suicide in the UK – with the advent of modern gas, this dropped by a third overnight, dwindling to no recorded instances last year (probably, we haven’t checked). One of the most quaintly, decidedly English methods of topping oneself is now lost to the ages. Have a think about that when you’re posting your emojis.

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