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MILLBOURNE, PA — Authorities are saying a 44-year-old woman, whose body was found in a Pennsylvania state park almost a week after being reported missing, committed suicide by inhaling helium gas.

A man contacted police on December 2 to report that he had returned home and was unable to find his girlfriend, Teresa Mastracola.

He’d last seen her that morning as she left for Delaware County Memorial Hospital where she worked as an imaging Equipment Specialist, and her co-workers reported that Mastracola never showed up for work that day.

Police did not immediately treat the woman’s disappearance as suspicious because Mastracola, a Master Sergeant with the National Guard, was an avid hiker and would often spend days out in the woods. But this past Saturday, her body was found in a heavily wooded area deep in Ridley Creek State Park.

Authorities have not released all the details surrounding her death, but are confident foul play was not involved, and that the woman had committed suicide. Coroner Frederic Hellman listed her cause of death as chemical asphyxia from helium inhalation.

I knew you could die from inhaling helium, and was aware people did commit suicide with it. In fact, the guy who wrote the song “You Light Up My Life” committed suicide with helium last year after being accused of a series of casting couch rapes.

What I wasn’t aware of is how popular this exit strategy has become for people wanting to speed up their shuffle off this mortal coil. According to a recent study that I have no link to, helium-related deaths have jumped from two in 2010 to 42 in 2011.

For anyone wondering how to  float to Heaven with a high-pitched voice, here’s a nice instructional video. I would rather have a suicidal, Google impaired individual do this the right way, and not end up a vegetable. Oh, and if you don’t happen to have helium tank fittings, you can order them from this guy. You are welcome.

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