Six-Year Retrospective Study of Suicidal Hangings: Determination of the Pattern of Limb Lesions Induced by Body Responses to Asphyxia by Hanging

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Abstract:

Abstract: 

The objective of the present study was to estimate the proportion of hanging victims presenting with limb lesions, to compare this rate between hanging in restraint spaces and in more open settings, and to describe the usual pattern of limb lesions associated with hanging. Two hundred and seven cases of suicidal hanging were retrospectively reviewed and compared to 45 homicidal nonhanging strangulation victims. Bruises incidence was significantly lower in hanging victims (19.8%) compared to homicidal strangulation victims (55.6%). Bruises were more commonly encountered in restraint areas such as closets and staircases (56.3% and 66.7%, respectively) than in more open settings such as barn, bridge, fence, and park. Limb bruises on hanging victims were generally located on the posterior upper limb or the anterior lower limbs, whereas strangulation victims did not display this preferential bruises concentration. Possible suspicion criteria for limb bruises distribution are discussed, in relation to physiopathology of human asphyxia by hanging.

Keywords: asphyxia; ecchymosis; forensic science; hanging; homicide; limb; pathophysiology; strangulation; suicide

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01112.x

Affiliations: Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale, Edifice Wilfrid-Derome, 1701, Parthenais Street, 12th Floor, Montreal, QC, Canada, H2K 3S7.

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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