No evidence of suicide in butane death

Photo / File
Photo / File

A mother of two young children died from inhaling butane gas, but there was no evidence of suicide, a coroner says.

Arahia Marama Rarere-Mischefski, a 27-year-old Napier student, died at home in August 2014. Her husband, Aaron Mischefski, arrived home from work at about 3.30am to find her lying dead on the living room floor, coroner Carla na Nagara says in findings published today.

Their two children, aged 2 and 4, were asleep on a mattress on the floor nearby.

Mrs Rarere-Mischefski, who had enrolled in a polytech diploma course in beauty and body therapy, was known to have abused solvents in her teens, but a cousin who gave evidence to the coroner was not aware of her going back to huffing.

She had suffered postnatal depression and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder traits. She had been prescribed antidepressants and medicine to stabilise her mood. Mrs Rarere-Mischefski tried to end her life in 2012.

The coroner said: "Despite Arahia's history of having thought of suicide at earlier periods in her life, there is no evidence that she was depressed or suicidal in the weeks or days immediately before her death. That said, she was clearly not taking her medication as her most recent prescription for antidepressants and mood stabilisers had run out some months earlier. Her history indicated her mood would deteriorate when she was not on this medication, although Aaron, [his mother] Lezley and Viki do not mention this having happened." The finding that there was butane in Mrs Rarere-Mischefski 's body came as a shock.

" ... Aaron only found out about her history of solvent abuse when the toxicology findings were released. The most recent incident, which was thought to have been a one-off, was when she was sniffing petrol some years earlier when struggling following the birth of her son." Her butane inhalation at the time of her death might have been the first time in years that she had done this, the coroner said.

The police had found nothing at the scene of death to suggest butane inhalation was a factor. A pathologist had indicated to police 10 minutes could have passed from the time of inhalation, to succumbing to its effects.

"Accordingly she may well have had time to conceal the evidence of her actions." The toxicologist who analysed bodily samples taken during Mrs Rarere-Mischefski 's post-mortem said inhaled butane causes toxicity by displacing oxygen. Sudden asphyxia -- oxygen deprivation -- can cause immediate unconsciousness. But if oxygen levels decrease slowly, initial effects including dizziness and rapid breathing and pulse can progress, as the asphyxia deepens, to nausea, vomiting, convulsions, deep coma and death.

Where to get help

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

• Youthline: 0800 376 633

• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

- NZ Herald

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