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NCJ Number: 228517 Find in a Library
Title: Six-Year Retrospective Study of Suicidal Hangings: Determination of the Pattern of Limb Lesions Induced by Body Responses to Asphyxia by Hanging
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:54  Issue:5  Dated:September 2009  Pages:1089-1092
Author(s): Anny Sauvageau, M.Sc., M.D.; Anny Godin, B.Sc.; Sebastien Desnoyers; Celia Kremer, M.Sc.
Date Published: September 2009
Page Count: 4
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined all cases of suicidal hanging (239 cases) in Quebec Province (Canada) over a 6-year period (2000-2005) in order to estimate the proportion of 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, so as to address any suspicion of foul play or homicide.
Abstract: This study identified limb bruises in 19.8 percent of the hanging victims, the highest rate ever reported for hangings; however, this rate varied widely, depending on the hanging location; it ranged from 0.0 percent in more open settings (e.g., barn, bridge, fence, and park) to over 50 percent in restraint areas (e.g., staircases and closets). Limb bruises in hangings are more likely to be located on posterior upper limbs and anterior lower limbs. A review of filmed asphyxia by hanging found a complex pattern of body movement responses. Loss of consciousness is closely followed by convulsions and alternating phases of decerebrate and decorticate rigidity. Arms are abruptly flexed in the quick and sudden phase of decortication. In contrast, arms are extended away from the body in the decerebration rigidity. The study concludes that in the evaluation of a given case, the presence of posterior arm bruises or anterior leg bruises is not generally reason for suspecting foul play; however, the presence of anterior arm bruises or bruises on both upper and lower limbs warrant more caution by the pathologist. Still, a suspicious bruise location by itself should not be interpreted as evidence of foul play without all other elements of the death scene and autopsy findings being taken into account. 7 tables, 3 figures, and 6 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Canada; Death investigations; Foreign criminal justice research; Forensic sciences; Investigative techniques; Suicide
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