Suicide by Insulin

I write this with a heavy heart but I really need some answers. My brother died last month, he was type 1 diabetic. He had been talking about suicide and how he could cover it up, his death certificate said he died of pneumonia and an enlarged heart.. the funny thing is that he wasn't sick with even a cold the day that he died. Does anyone know if an overdose of insulin or something like that could cause the heart to be enlarged and also have it appear to be pneumonia?

Any answers would be very much appreciated, I'm going crazy and just need to know for myself what happened.

Thank you Shawnmarie, I'm sorry about your friends husband.

Sister, so sorry to hear about your brother. I hope the TuD members are able to help you find the answers you are looking for. It is so tough when there is no one to explain what really happened. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

I am sorry to hear about your brother. After discovering I was diabetic about 2 months ago I did some research (fairly limited though) into what does of insulin would be fatal. I was looking so I could make sure I would avoid such doses. Apparently it can be as little as 20u or 400u+ depending on the person/situation. I came across a few stories of murder by insulin and never saw any mention of an enlarged heart or pneumonia like symptoms, but I can in no way definitively say it couldn't happen. I certainly don't have the knowledge to say that for sure. Just looking at some information online now I found this:

"In deaths where a suspected insulin overdose has occurred, the following tests should be ordered: total insulin, free insulin, c-peptide, anti-insulin antibodies. An insulin-dependent diabetic will often have elevated total insulin levels, low C-peptide levels, and a positive (elevated) level of anti-insulin antibodies. If an insulin overdose has occurred, the free insulin level will be elevated."

The full text on the insulin section can be found here starting on page 288. Do you know if they did any testing for insulin levels at all or if that was requested? I don't know if this any help at all and again, sorry for your loss.

I'm very sorry about your brother. It could have really been pneumonia. I had a friend who thought she had a bad cold. She went to sleep and didn't wake up. The autopsy said that she had pneumonia which somehow moved an infection into her heart. Her heart enlarged and ultimately stopped beating because it was over strained.

I hope someone can help you with the insulin question and again, I'm very sorry.

Sister, I am very sorry for your loss. I understand that feeling of wanting and needing answers. My own beloved brother died five years ago of kidney cancer, and to this day I have anxious nights sometimes, tossing and turning, worrying about all the unanswered questions -- some about how he handled his illness, some about the medical care he received, some about the behavior of family members before and after his death.

He was only 47 and it was 90 days from diagnosis until his death -- it seemed very sudden to me, but of course others like yourself have an even more shocking time-line to deal with.

I am telling you this to help you see that I have tremendous compassion for what you are experiencing and your sense of urgency to get answers. I do understand. However, I think it might be better for you in the long-run if you can focus on grieving and letting go now. There's nothing you can do to bring him back, and whatever he chose to do or not do, you'll never be able to speak with him about it or understand it, really. If you allow yourself to be haunted by these unanswered questions, will it really help you heal? I fear not.

Grief is a process that takes a long time. For me, the really acute grief lasted about eighteen months and it was almost four years before I could think about him with happy memories and not instantly fall into sobbing. We were really close (more like twins, in some ways, than just brother and sister.) I miss him terribly. But I also know that he would not want me obsessing about his death or staying mired in misery. I'm sure that your brother wouldn't want you to compound your grief with suspicions, anxieties and doubts, either.

If you can get into a grief support group or work with a grief counselor, they might help you put your unanswered questions into perspective. In the meantime, here is a (((hug))) from a stranger who wishes you well.

I'm soo sorry for ur loss. I kinda go with the pneumonia thingy though.

I tend to aGREE WITH U THERE. i WAS SO DEPRESSED (crap caps) after the death of my mom from pancratic cancer that I was really questioning that myself. After some counsling I got some better on my really bad thoughts. But like u I still have some of those nights there (I was an only child so I didn't have a brother or sister just really close to my mom)

About 3 years ago I had 3 uncles (brothers 72, 78, and 82 years old) who died within the same year. All were diabetic. Only one was on insulin, but all of them took other diabetic medications and the standard fare of cholesterol and blood pressure drugs that are routinely given to diabetics. All died suddenly and unexpectedly of heart-related problems that were not previously known, and their death certificates all said they had enlarged hearts. The youngest was the one who had been on insulin for 40 years. He'd had a supposedly comprehensive medical exam just a week previously where the enlarged heart was not noticed. I don't know which medications my uncles were taking, but have always wondered if they were ones that are known to cause problems. Heart disease is uncommon in our family.

From my experience I'd say its rather easy to overdose on insulin. For most people I'd say 2 to 3 extra units of fast acting insulin could put them near a coma. If you look at a syringe 3 units of insulin is so small you can barely see it. For a diabetic it's probably the easiest way out.

Long time ago, but Sunny Von Bulow was famous in the 1980s--Wikipedia her:

I think it would be very hard to do death by insulin, especially in 2012. Too many good tests.

Hope all works out for you. Grief is soooo hard and a lot of "things" come in. My mom died over 30 years ago, and now that I am downsizing, I am letting go of her things, that I never used, but were still hers. Still so veyr hard. Take care.

^ that is total BS. I've been in a few close calls over the last few years. Yeah if you keep testing your sugar you could prevent it but I am not waking up every few hours to check my sugar while I am sleeping. The fact is I would have been dead had it not been for my mom saving me by calling the paramedics. Being I had no clue what was going on it seems like a peaceful way to go if you pull it off while sleeping. If my mom wasn't around anymore I would highly consider doing it.

I'm sorry you had to experience that loss, and I hope answers will be found for your questions. Like others, though, I'd have to assume that pneumonia was the culprit; T1s are encouraged to have a pneumonia vaccination, I guess because it hits them much harder. The fact that there is a "walking pneumonia" indicates many strains exist (and, although this one usually clears on its own, is still contagious).

Now for what you didn't want to hear... I will admit to contemplating suicide by insulin. I bet many others on this board have, as well. I haven't yet because I want to be around when they find a cure -- or something close to it. And I genuinely like being a pain in someone's butt. But if I got burned out enough or frustrated enough or hopeless enough, I have no doubt I'd entertain the notion again.

Ok now wait here Gary. I got to go with Type1Gal here I've experanced MANY lows to where I've been in MANY seizures and been saved from them EACH time. STOP TELLING SUCH DEPRESSING THINGS TO SOMEONE WHO REALLY NEEDS UNDERSTANDING RIGHT NOW!!!

Diabetes (or long term high blood sugar) causes heart disease, so it could have been the natural progression of the disease that caused his death. I would just accept the death certificate cause of death and leave it at that.

+1. Come on Gary, what's needed in this thread is support, not more panic and fear.

I am so sorry for your loss.

I do know that Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy can cause an enlarged heart and is often not diagnosed, especially in younger people, until after they've died from it.

I do know that people died suddenly from pneumonia as well.

I do not believe that these are linked with an insulin overdose.

Again, I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how difficult this time must be for you and your family.

sister, I am uncertain , if my response will be of any help . I was diagnosed with breast cancer X number of years ago , just after having become engaged to be married ; I felt soooo sad , it was driving me crazy , cried my eye balls out and it took up a lot of my brain time .The question would pop into my mind : " why me, why me etc, etc ??? " This was the best advise I received from several of my co-horts and still use that same advise today : Put the question on the shelf ; when you feel better, stronger you may likely not care what the answer is . Still a very enlightening process for me ! Hope it can be for you too .Put it( the question ) on the shelf, please ...with hugs !

Sorry to hear of your brother's passing, I know it is hard to deal with, I'm no Dr, but yes you can have pneumonia with out any sign of illness expecialy in diabetics. I always get pneumonia shots every year just to be save . Yeas he could have OD'D on insulin, but usually coroners will check your insulin LVL's if your a diabetic (for Insurance reasons). He probably had a bad heart and the pneumonia probably added extra stress to his heart muscles and caused it to fail. If you need to feel more at peace, go talk to the coroner and he/she will probably give you in detail what could have happened in a timeline forum to you. Just remember the good times you had together and it will take time, but time heals all wounds. Hang in there.

Almost sounds like a drug they were all taking could be related to the issues they experienced...