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Suicide by Blasting Caps: A Case Study of Rare Cranial Trauma

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Suicide is a deliberate act of ending one’s life. Suicide by use of any explosive device, when not involved in a terrorist act, is quite rare in occurrence when compared with other methods routinely utilized. In this paper, we present to the medicolegal community a case of an adult male who committed suicide with blasting caps and the subsequent extensive damage to the cranial hard tissue. Although the cause and manner of death were relatively straightforward, consultation with forensic anthropologists was requested for an anthropological trauma assessment of the highly fragmented skull. After the skull was cleaned and reconstructed, the analysis revealed similarities between blasting cap trauma to the head and high velocity gunshot trauma to the head. Therefore, in a case where some evidence may have been removed or destroyed, forensic analysis involving trauma of this magnitude could result in a misinterpretation of the true mechanism responsible for the osseous damage. In this case, cooperation among the law enforcement agency, coroner’s investigators, the forensic pathologist, and forensic anthropologists provided a comprehensive death case analysis.

Keywords: blasting cap; cranial trauma; explosion trauma; explosive device; forensic anthropology; forensic science; high velocity gunshot trauma; suicidal explosion

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.

Publication date: November 1, 2008


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