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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2000 September;120(3): 151-8
Survey data on 508 drug addicts dying from heroin overdose in Turin between 1981 and 1995
Ottolia M., Tappero P.
Background. The aim of this study was to single out the main characteristics of the circumstances leading to deaths from heroin in overdose between 1981 and 1995 in Turin.
Methods. 508 cases of lethal heroin overdose which occurred in Turin between 1981 and 1995 were examined, taking into account the location and position of the corpse, clothing and any objects found close to the body, as well as the documented presence of other persons with the overdose victim.
Results. Approximately 45% of deaths occurred in the individual's own home, about 11% in the street or in their own car, about 4% in their own hotel room, 3.7% at railway stations and 2.4% in trains. Approximately 30% of all cases were in a supine position, 20% were sitting and 19% prone. The majority of corpses were found fully dressed (about 75% of all cases), 11%half-dressed, 4% in night clothes and 0.5% naked. In about 41.5% of cases, the syringe that had been used was found close to the body, 8.5% were holding it in their hand and 6.8% had inserted it into their body.
Conclusions. From an analysis of these data it can be said that lethal overdoses mainly occur in private apartments, that the subjects are fully dressed and a syringe is frequently found close to the body. These findings are broadly in line with those published in the literature.