Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: Woman unsuccessfully tries to gas herself to death only to discover the gas company has turned off service.
Example: [Healey & Glanvill, 1996]
Origins: Whenever a story sounds too pat to be true, that generally turns out to be the case — real life is rarely that neat. In this instance, a tired plotline has been resurrected to service a new theme: The Tory government of Britain so screws up this woman's life it makes it impossible for her to kill herself.
The theme of the gas having been turned off is as old as the hills, although this plot twist is usually resorted to in murder thrillers rather than suicide tales. From the 1946 book 101 Plots Used and Abused comes this description:
Henry Smithers, in a rage, strikes his wife and kills her. In a panic, he has an inspiration — why not make it appear that she had committed suicide by turning on the gas? Ah, what a great idea! Henry carries the body to the gas range, places it so that the head rests inside, turns on the gas, and, leaving the house, goes off on a "business trip." When he returns, he is arrested and charged with the crime. Unfortunately forThis 1946 collection of overused storylines referred to this theme as "bewhiskered," and rightly so. Still, it's nice to see so old a device used for a new purpose.
Barbara "gas masked" Mikkelson
Sightings: The 1977 Kinks song "Life Goes On" contains the following stanza:
My bank went broke and my well ran dry.Last updated: 18 January 2007
It was almost enough to contemplate suicide.
I turned on the gas, but I soon realized
I hadn't settled my bill so they cut off my supply.
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