Teenage Boy Injected Himself With Mercury In Attempt To Become An X-Men

Spoiler alert: it did not turn him into Wolverine. Image credit: Nuamfolio/Shutterstock.com

In 2014, a 15-year-old child injected himself with mercury in an attempt to develop superpowers similar to a character he liked in one of the X-Men movies. Unsurprisingly, the attempt landed him in hospital, rather than Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

The boy arrived in a tertiary care trauma center, with multiple large ulcers on his forearm, which hadn't gone away for over two months. Other than the lesions, he appeared healthy and had no other problems to speak of.

With no obvious cause (let's face it, your mind doesn't immediately leap to "ah he probably just wanted to develop superhuman strength") the team suspected that it may have been caused by substance abuse. He was transferred to a psychiatric team, his doctors report in the Journal of Laboratory Physicians, who were able to get the full story out of him.

The boy had recently watched the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. According to the authors, he liked one of the characters called "Mercury" in the film, hence his decision to inject himself with mercury taken from a broken thermometer and a sphygmomanometer. However, though the doctors are surely spot on with their medical knowledge, we have to question their X-Men knowledge, given that they had named the film "X-Man Wolverine" and the character Mercury does not appear in any of the X-Men movie franchise. We'd hazard a guess that the boy was attempting to become the character, Mercury, from the comic books – who can melt and solidify at will due to her mercury-like blood – or Wolverine, whose bones are coated in fictional metal alloy adamantium. 

During the investigation, they found that the boy had also allowed spiders to bite him in an attempt to gain powers similar to Spiderman, though this was not deemed the most pressing of matters given that he had injected mercury into multiple sites in his arm.

The mercury can be seen in his X-Rays. Image credit: Journal of Laboratory Physicians (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Tests confirmed that he had elevated levels of mercury in his urine, though thankfully he had only managed to inject the metal under his skin, rather than into his veins, minimizing the damage that could have otherwise occurred had it entered his bloodstream. The team carefully cut into the lesions, and sure enough "the cut-section revealed hemorrhagic and necrotic areas with exuding shiny droplets of mercury".

Following the removal of the dead tissue and mercury, the boy was able to leave the hospital and did not go on to absorb mercury further into his systems.

The team stressed that the boy's hospitalization was unusual, with most cases of deliberate injection of mercury forming part of suicide attempts.

"Other unusual incidences of self-injection of mercury include a 14-year-old boxer who received an injection of metallic mercury thinking that it would strengthen his sports performance and subjects who believe that mercury injections will improve sexual powers."

In this case however, they believe that the boy was otherwise mentally healthy, but had made an unusual decision in order to try and gain superpowers.

"Surprisingly," they note, "he had no other psychiatric problems and had a normal IQ."


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