Final Exit

Karen Stern’s Final Exit
October 29, 2007, Kingman, Arizona

By Richard N. Côté / dickcote at earthlink.net

Karen Stern, a vivacious 53-year-old,
guitar-playing singer and writer of loopy,
infectiously funny songs, died on the morning of
October 29, 2007, in a motel in Kingman, Arizona.

She had informed the front desk clerk about 7:00
a.m. that she would be checking out that day.
When she had not done so by 11:00 a.m., a motel
staff member went to her room.  Karen was found
in her bed, neatly dressed, with an empty tank of
helium gas nearby. She had committed suicide in a
gentle, painless way by breathing pure helium,
which rendered her unconscious within a minute or
two and dead within five or ten minutes. The
hotel immediately called 911, but the paramedics 
could do nothing to help her.

A native of the Northeast, she had chosen
Kingman, Arizona, as one of her temporary
sanctuaries in the last several years. Its dry
climate offered some relief from the severe
effects of the two baffling and exhausting
afflictions from which she had suffered for many
years: Morgellons Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue
and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS).

According to the CFIDS Association
(www.cfids.org), “Chronic fatigue and immune
dysfunction syndrome, also known as chronic
fatigue syndrome (CFS), myalgic encephalomyelitis
(ME) and by other names, is a complex and
debilitating chronic illness that affects the 
brain and multiple body systems.”

Morgellons Syndrome is equally baffling to
science. The Morgellons Research Foundation
(www.morgellons.org) found that although some
patients did find physicians willing to help
them, “many patients reported feeling abandoned
by physicians unwilling to investigate their
illness. These patients tried valiantly to find a
modicum of relief in the face of an otherwise
ineffective medical system.” Karen, who spent
years intensively researching her ailments,  
was one of those patients.

Numerous doctors could not alleviate the
increasingly tortured existence she had lived for
the past several years. As her conditions
worsened, and life became progressively more
unbearable, Karen consulted numerous experts on
the subject of suicide, and had received
extensive advice on how to find the strength to
live, as well as how to put an end to her pain
peacefully, should she choose to do so. She spent
an enormous amount of time conducting research on
how to achieve a rapid, painless death.

Ultimately, she chose the helium method because
it was recommended in the world’s best-selling
suicide how-to book, Final Exit, by Derek
Humphry, and because the supplies could all be
obtained locally, legally, and without having to 
involve anyone else.