Sodium Nitrate Poisoning Ruled as Cause of Death for Former Child Actor Matthew Mindler

Photo: (Photo : Leiem, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

Matthew Mindler, the former child actor who died by suicide in August, intentionally poisoned himself using sodium nitrate, a chemical agent used as a food preservative that he bought off the internet, his mother has revealed.

Speaking with TMZ, Monica, Mindler's mother, said that she found a trail of internet searches about sodium nitrate on her son's computer. The 19-year-old was apparently looking up information on ending one's life without as much pain as possible.

There were also records of Mindler's Amazon purchase of sodium nitrate for $15. Monica said that the volume of what his son had taken in would be fatal for four people. The medical examiner of Lancaster County, which did the autopsy of Mindler's body, confirmed that he died from a lethal dose of sodium nitrate.

The mother is sharing what really happened to her son to warn parents to be aware of their children's actions. Monica said she had no clue that her son wanted to take his own life and explored how to do it on the internet. 

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A 'Crippling Anxiety'

Mindler, who appeared in the movie "Our Idiot Brother" starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanel, was reported missing in August. He was living at the Millersville University campus as a first-year college student. 

A few days after his disappearance, Mindler's body was found at the township near his campus. The university president, Daniel A. Wubah, confirmed his death in a message to the school community. 

In an interview with Page Six, Monica said her son experienced "crippling anxiety" as a teenager. He has been out of the acting business for some time. Knowing his experiences, Monica was constantly in touch with Mindler when he went off to college in Pennsylvania. She observed that he seemed to be enjoying his first few days in a new university.  

Mindler even assured his mother that he has been making friends at Millersville, where he planned to join a computer programming club and apply for a job at the university's IT department.

The weekend before his disappearance, Monica messaged her son that she would drive to his school take him home so he could relax and unwind as a way to manage his anxiety. Her messages were left unanswered, prompting the mom to suspect that something was wrong.

Effects of Sodium Nitrate

Sodium nitrate is often used as a food preservative for bacon, luncheon meat, and cured meats but the Mayo Clinic noted that it can increase the risk of heart disease. Experts believe that this chemical agent can cause damage to the blood vessels and impact how the body processes sugar. Thus, doctors warn against consuming food products filled with this preservative.

Intoxication or poisoning from sodium nitrate may be rare, but there are severe effects on one's health if this substance has been ingested in excessive amounts. It can lead to gastroenteritis, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, convulsion and collapse, and organ abnormalities.

In severe cases, sodium nitrate poisoning may cause methemoglobinemia, a type of blood disorder. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one teaspoon full taken in one sitting could be enough to kill an adult.

However, despite its risks, the chemical is still in the market because it can help bacterial colonization, especially in food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates its use as a food additive to just 2.75 ounces per 100 pounds of meat.

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