Science | Vintage

Man Tried To Kill Himself, Accidentally Saved His Own Life Instead

The world works in some mysterious ways, and as much as we know about medical science sometimes we hear stories that drop our jaws. This is one of those stories.

First let me say that we in no way condone suicide. If you're thinking about suicide please call 1-800-273-8255 if you live in the USA.

Now, onto one of the most bizarre medical cases in history.

First reported by the New York Times back in 1988, there was a medical miracle so bizarre it made national headlines, despite happening in Canada.

Dr. Leslie Solyom had been treating a young man he only referred to as George. George had crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a phobia of germs. He'd shower dozens of times per day, wash his hands constantly, and fret about being dirty or getting sick.


As his conditioned worsened, the previously straight-A student was forced to drop out of college and quit his job. He became a shut in and grew increasingly depressed.

"George was very depressed and told his mother that his life was so wretched that he would rather die," Dr. Solyom told the LA Times.

Chicago Tribune

At his lowest point, George went down to his basement, stuck a .22 caliber rifle in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

But he didn't die.

What happened next on the second page!

George was found by his mother and rushed to hospital. With such a serious head wound they feared the worst, but after he was stabilized it was a matter of waiting and seeing what the lasting impact of the bullet was.

They never would have predicted the final result.

After surgery removed the bullet George awoke with almost no side effects from the shooting. As time wore on he did notice one change: his OCD was cured.


He no longer had a compulsion to wash and he wasn't afraid of the germs surrounding the hospital. He returned to school and achieved the same marks as before his condition became intolerable. It was a full recovery.

The bullet traveled through his mouth and into his frontal lobe, which is the area of the brain believed to be responsible for compulsive behaviors. It was rare, but occasionally hospitals would perform surgery to remove a portion of this section of the brain, in order to treat severe cases of OCD. In the 80s it was believed that as many as 30 partial lobotomies a year would be performed on OCD patients.

The procedure was made famous by the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and shocked audiences who had no idea it was performed on those who were mentally ill.

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

The bullet might have accidentally performed a similar procedure.

Lobotomies are no longer as common a practice as they once were, and the procedure is vastly different.

Five years after the incident George was still mostly symptom free. He said he would have to close windows twice to make sure they were shut, but that was his own compulsive behavior. It's unknown where he is now, or how he is doing.

This is not to say that suicide is the answer to mental illness, it's more a bizarre story that is fascinating, and shows how strange the world can be sometimes.