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Minerva Medicolegale 2011 September;131(3):87-91

language: English

Suicide by gunshot and death by combined injury

Perotti S. 1, Bin P. 2, Ossoli A. 2

1 Department of Legal Medicine, Brescia University, Brescia, Italy
2 Legal Medicine Istitute, Brescia University, Brescia, Italy


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Suicide using a firearm proves to be a frequent means of self-inflicted injury. The case observed is particularly interesting for the morphology of the lesions found and for the dual causes of death, injuries to the brain combined with asphyxia. The macroscopic findings emerging from the autopsy, particularly the imprint of the muzzle, enabled a reconstruction of the method of suicide and compatibility with the weapon found to be confirmed. The particular site of the wound, located in the suprahyoid region, triggered the onset of the combined causes of death. The lack of involvement of physiologically more crucial sites in the brain, meant the occurrence of a period of agony. By blocking the airways, the copious bleeding from the mouth led to a mechanism of mechanical asphyxia. Immunohistochemical techniques were used on preparations of lung parenchyma in order to provide an approximation of the period of agony. The quantitative determination of the number of alveolar macrophages in relation to trends described in literature and their gradual increase in cases of prolonged asphyxia, would suggest a relatively short time of asphyxia.

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