Now, a ‘suicide-proof’ ceiling fan

Fans, which are ideally meant to provide respite from hot and humid summers, can no longer be used as means to commit suicide.

Updated: Jun 19, 2013, 09:41 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Jabalpur: Fans, which are ideally meant to provide respite from hot and humid summers, can no longer be used as means to commit suicide.

Madhya Pradesh cardiologist RS Sharma, who is a professor at a government medical college in Jabalpur, has given shape to this idea. He calls it “a simple contraption rigged up by using plain common sense”.

Dr Sharma recalls that the idea of making a ‘suicide-proof’ ceiling fan struck him from a real life experience when a teenage boy in his neighbourhood committed suicide after failing the Class XII examination.

After this incident, the doctor decided to design a ceiling fan with built-in safety features, so that it can’t be used as a death tool. To accomplish this task, Sharma did a lot of thinking and made several trips to welders and mechanics, and after a week, came up with the solution.

The professor explained that the device has a hollow metal tube inside the fan`s shaft to which are attached the motor and blades. Hinged to the shaft are four heavy springs, which are designed in such a manner, so that they can take an additional weight of 25 kg besides the motor and the blades. The moment the limit set for the optimum weight is exceeded, the springs uncoil, leading to a soft landing of the person without stretching of the neck or straining the noose.

Dr Sharma was quoted as saying to a leading daily, “Hanging causes dislocation of atlanto axial (upper cervical segment of the spinal cord) and compression on medulla oblongata (upper neck bones) that control vital centres of respiration and heart. But the victims are not aware of it. They normally die due to compression of carotid arteries (located on both sides of the neck which supply blood to the brain) and the resultant asphyxia. This death could be extremely painful and prolonged as the victim remains suspended in the air till the end comes”.

"With the stretchable shaft, the risk of `feet- above- the-ground` position is eliminated. The maximum harm could be a few bruises," he added.

Dr Sharma has applied for the patent of this ceiling fan design, and hopes this will be used in all homes and hostels to prevent usage of ceiling fan as a death tool.

Dr Sharma, who is now working for an aesthetic design of his innovative contraption, said "Worried over the spiralling suicide graph in the IITs, a four-member committee had suggested replacement of ceiling fans with pedestal fans. All they have to do is to install this device which will cost only Rs 450 and breathe easy”.