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Suicidal Electrocution in Sydney—A 10-Year Case Review

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A retrospective study was undertaken of all cases of death due to suicidal electrocution in Sydney, Australia between 1996 and 2005. A total of 25 cases were identified with 20 cases (80%) as a result of direct attachment to an electrical outlet and five cases (20%) as a result of immersion in a body of water with an electrical appliance. Twenty of the 25 individuals were men (mean age = 57 years, range 22–90) and five were women (mean age 67, range 53–88). At least 35% of decedents were either currently working or had worked as electricians. Electrical timers had been used in eight (32%) cases, the fuse blown in one case, but the remaining 16 (64%) bodies were “live” on arrival of witnesses or electricity personnel. This study demonstrates the phenomenon of electrical suicide as a regular occurrence in Sydney. We highlight the need for investigators and emergency workers to remain vigilant upon discovery of electrical suicides, due to the fact that most bodies remain electrically active after death.
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Keywords: electrocution; forensic pathology; forensic science; suicide

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Forensic Medicine, 42-50 Parramatta Road, Glebe, NSW 2037, Australia and Department of Pathology, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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