New Zealander says eating finger was cry for help

May 04, 2011

A mentally ill New Zealand man who cut off and ate his own finger in a rare case of self-cannibalism has described his action as a cry for help but "ultimately, a very stupid idea".

The man's case was outlined last month in the medical journal Australasian Psychiatry, which described it as one of only eight documented instances of self-cannibalism recorded in the world.

The report's authors, forensic psychiatrist Erik Monasterio and clinical psychologist Craig Prince, said that the man applied a tourniquet to his little finger, cut it off with a jigsaw, cooked it with vegetables and ate it.

He was suffering from moderate depression, insomnia and at the time of the 2009 incident, they said.

The journal reported said the man, aged 28 at the time, was not psychotic when he was assessed in hospital and had not consumed drugs or alcohol.

However, the New Zealand Herald reported Wednesday that the man told the paper he did experience a psychotic episode at the time but it had passed by the time he reached the hospital.

He expressed frustration at his difficulty in receiving medical help for psychosis, saying he struggled to convince mental health workers his condition was not simply depression.

"I have lost all faith in the system. You have to say you are going to kill someone or kill yourself (to receive attention)," he told the newspaper.

The man, who described himself as a Buddhist vegetarian, said he now regretted eating his finger.

He said his action was a desperate attempt to get attention from mental health authorities and he hoped his case would encourage others with mental illness to seek help.

He told the newspaper his current flatmates did not "freak out" when he told them what he had done but they were curious about the experience.

"They asked me 'what did it taste like? Does it taste like chicken or pork?," said the man, who was not named.

He said he had told his flatmates he did not know as "I haven't eaten chicken or pork in such a long time".

Explore further: Early exposure to antidepressants affects adult anxiety and serotonin transmission

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Israeli police probe hi-tech info theft

May 25, 2006

Israel police investigators have detained a man suspected of stealing hi-tech secrets from his employer during the goodbye bash the company threw him.

First penis transplant patient hated it

Sep 18, 2006

A Chinese accident victim who became the world's first successful recipient of a transplanted penis psychologically rejected it and asked for its removal.

Homicide and suicide rates among mentally ill on the decline

Jul 07, 2010

People with mental health problems are committing fewer homicides while the number of suicides by mental health patients has also fallen, latest figures for England and Wales reveal; a previous rise in homicides by mentally ...

Study of Kennewick Man beginning

Jul 06, 2005

Anthropologists are gathering this week in Seattle to examine the remains of a skeleton known as Kennewick Man. The 9,200- to 9,500-year-old remains have been at the center of a bitter battle between American Indians and ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.