Multiple gunshot suicide
Multiple gunshot suicide occurs when a person commits suicide by inflicting multiple gunshots on themselves before becoming incapacitated. It excludes suicides where the firearms are operated by other people, such as suicide by cop.
Multiple gunshot suicides are rare, but possible. In one study of 138 gunshot suicides, 5 (3.6%) involved two shots to the head, the first of which missed the brain. A suicide with 4 gunshots to the head has been reported.
Incapacitation from a gunshot injury results from a decrease in the functioning of the central nervous system. In a suicide by firearm, immediate incapacitation can be achieved by direct disruption to brain stem tissue. Rapid incapacitation can be achieved indirectly by cerebral hypoxemia resulting from massive bleeding from the heart, the thoracic aorta, or the pulmonary artery. Damage to other major organs – the lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen – results only in delayed incapacitation. Incapacitation by a shot to the head is achieved when the bullet penetrates the cerebrum; however, numerous bullet trajectories, including a shot between the eyes, do not achieve this penetration.
One particular case has been documented from Australia. In February 1995, a man committed suicide on parkland in Canberra. He took a pump action shotgun and shot himself in the chest. The load passed through the chest without hitting a rib, and went out the other side. He then walked fifteen meters, pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the head. After reloading the shotgun, he leaned the shotgun against his throat, and shot his throat and part of his jaw. He then reloaded a final time, walked 200 meters to a hill, sat down on the slope, held the gun against his chest with his hands and operated the trigger with his toes. This shot entered the thoracic cavity and demolished the heart, killing him.
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