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Asphyxiation by Occlusion of Nose and Mouth by Duct Tape: Two Unusual Suicides

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The most recent U.S. statistics (2005) determined that 22.2% of suicides are by suffocation. This number likely includes suicidal hanging. Based on previous reports the majority of nonhanging suicidal asphyxiations are accomplished by securing a plastic bag over the head. We report two instances of a far less common method of suicidal asphyxiation, occlusion of the nose and mouth by duct tape. One was a 47-year-old man with a history of paranoid schizophrenia with suicidal ideation and the other was a 52-year-old man who was depressed due to gambling debts. The value of scene investigation, including review of available video surveillance to determine the manner of death is highlighted.
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Keywords: airway occlusion; asphyxiation; duct tape; forensic pathology; forensic science; suicide

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner and Department of Forensic Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016.

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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