How Can Insulin Kill You

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Teenage Girl Died Of Insulin Overdose After Injecting Herself With Diabetic Boyfriend's Pen 'in Cry For Attention'

A teenage girl who died after injecting herself with insulin may have taken it to try to lose weight. Charlie Dunne, 19, used an insulin pen belonging to her diabetic boyfriend while he was out at a hospital appointment. An inquest heard the trainee hairdresser may have taken the hormone previously after hearing that it could help slimmers. But the teenager, who was fit and healthy, would have been unaware of the ‘catastrophic’ danger the drug posed to non-diabetics, a coroner said. Miss Dunne was discovered collapsed at the home in Atherton, Greater Manchester, she shared with boyfriend Terence Rhoden, 28, when he returned hours later. She suffered brain damage caused by a dramatic drop in blood sugar and died in hospital six days later. Police later investigated claims by Miss Dunne’s family that Mr Rhoden had confessed to injecting her with insulin in the past to help her lose weight. But he denied doing so and officers found no evidence that he was involved in his girlfriend’s death. Bolton Coroner’s Court was told that ‘bubbly’ Miss Dunne was a regular at her local Methodist church, where she was given the community title of ‘rose queen’ for her charity fundr Continue reading >>

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  1. broof99

    I get asked this question regularly so I was wondering if anyone can point to an answer. I would think they would be able to decrease the amount of insulin produced by their own body but this is just a guess.

  2. sparky_1966

    It would depend how much was given and under what circumstances. Insulin is produced in response to detection of elevated blood glucose, there is no feedback based on the level of insulin itself. A few units of short acting insulin given to someone who just ate a meal with carbohydrates would have no problems. The injected insulin will lower the blood glucose and the pancreas will make more if needed or none if the glucose level is too low.
    What if you gave a few units of short acting to someone who hasn't eaten all day? In that case you might drive the blood glucose low enough to cause brain damage or kill them. The brain is one of the most glucose sensitive organs, and damage occurs quickly if it gets too low. Low glucose in starvation is different in that there is some ability of the body and brain to switch to tolerate lower glucose by partially using other metabolic pathways. Switching take time though, so fast drops in blood glucose are dangerous.
    Long acting insulin could do the same thing as giving short acting insulin to a person with low blood glucose. Eventually the food they ate is digested, but the long acting insulin sticks around and blood glucose will continue to decrease until they get into trouble.
    The low glucose (hypoglycemia) causing brain damage and coma is one of the reasons killers sometimes use insulin to kill people. Usually diabetics that they switch the dosing on so it looks like an accident.
    Too high a glucose level is actually short term pretty safe. That's one of the reasons why unconscious people get intravenous glucose with electrolytes. Too low is much worse than too high, and the lost time to check can make a difference in recovery.

  3. [deleted]

    This. Health professionals are taught that high blood glucose is dangerous in the long run, but hypoglycemia can kill you now. Diabetics are taught the signs of hypoglycemia so that they can correct the situation before it becomes dire. It can put you into a coma. I've seen people with BG of 30.

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