Saturday, October 27, 2007

Excited Delerium: Shooting for the Stars

In all the speculation over recent deaths of persons in custody, many as a result of taser shock, law enforcement officials have pointed to a condition called Excited Delerium. Here are links to several different accounts of the frightening and fully indemnifying illness which caused the overwhelming stress that killed several people:

Taser alone didn't kill Geldart: pathologist

Tasers: Could paranoid rage be the real killer?

Canadian Police Research Centre: Excited Delirium PDF

The symptoms of this exceptional and disturbing ailment include acute agitation, profuse sweating, and insensitivity to pain. Apparently when someone suffers from this they can become violent and prone to disruptive behaviour.

Since people have apparently suffered from this dangerous and rare syndrome in custody of customs, immigration, security and military officers, I decided to learn about it from a trusted health source. I contacted Health Canada to ask them about this upsetting illness from which many people suffer and ultimately die, despite it's rarity, when they are in the custody of law enforcers. I wrote the following email to them:


In several recent cases of TASER use in Canada and the US, law enforcement officials have blamed the deaths of detainees on a syndrome they call "excited delerium". They site symptoms similar to a panic attack and asphyxia.

Does Health Canada recognize such a syndrome? Does this syndrome exist in the eyes of Canada's Health Agency?

kind regards,

Here is the response I received from Health Canada:

Thank you for contacting Health Canada, as of right now, no we don't. I have searched for some information but it does not exist. For additional personal health information from a trusted source, visit the Canadian Health Network, a Web site about health promotion and disease prevention, brought to you by Health Canada and major health organizations across Canada

Communications Officer | Agent des communications
Health Canada | Santé Canada


We have a prognosis from non-medical staff who potentially wish to exonerate themselves and their agencies from causing death by (at least) gross negligence, and symptoms that can easily apply to anyone suffering from stress during arrest or questioning. Terror and trauma can each cause high-anxiety, insensitivity to pain, profuse sweating and violent outbursts. So can exceptional stress on the body, like electrocution.

Excited Delerium. As false a diagnosis as "disturbing the peace" is a charge.

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