Suicide of Wells, anaesthesia pioneer

Suicide of Wells, anaesthesia pioneer

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Suicide of Horace Wells (1815-1848), US dentist and anaesthesia pioneer. In 1844, Wells pioneered the use of nitrous oxide for anaesthesia. However, he later became addicted to another anaesthetic, chloroform. In a drug-induced delerium he threw acid over two prostitutes. While in prison following his arrest, overcome by remorse, he anaesthetised himself (bottle at lower right) and committed suicide by using a razor blade to cut open a leg artery while in a bath tub. Artwork from Les Martyrs de la Science (G. Tissandier, 1882).

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