Missing West Covina woman commits suicide in Castaic

Authorities confirmed today that a young woman who apparently committed suicide in Castaic inside a car posted with signs saying "Stay Away" and "Dangerous Gas" had been reported missing from West Covina.

An autopsy was pending to determine the cause of the 20-year-old woman's death, said Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the coroner's office.

Authorities said the woman apparently died of hydrogen sulfide poisoning, a trend in suicide that started in Japan. The toxic gas, which smells of rotten eggs, can be made by mixing common household cleaners.

A sheriff's deputy noticed the blue Honda in a field near Lake Hughes and Dry Gulch roads about 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said. The body was found in the back seat of the car, which was posted with signs warning about the gas.

In Japan in the first half of 2008, more than 500 people committed suicide by mixing a bath sulfur, something unavailable in the United States, with a toilet bowl cleaner to create hydrogen sulfide, according to published reports.

In the United States, other common cleaning chemicals are substituted for bath sulfur to make the gas, and one of the first so-called detergent suicides occurred in Pasadena in 2009.