Multiple gunshot suicide

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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.[1] A suicide with 4 gunshots to the head has been reported.[2]

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.[1] 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.[3]

In 1978, poet Frank Stanford put three bullets into his own heart with a pistol. The remarkableness of this act inspired the Indigo Girls song "Three Hits."[4]

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  1. ^ a b Karger B, Brinkmann B (1997). "Multiple gunshot suicides: potential for physical activity and medico-legal aspects". Int J Legal Med. 110 (4): 188–92. doi:10.1007/s004140050065. PMID 9274942. 
  2. ^ Introna F, Smialek JE (Dec 1989). "Suicide from multiple gunshot wounds". Am J Forensic Med Pathol 10 (4): 275–84. doi:10.1097/00000433-198912000-00001. PMID 2589286.  cited in Messmer, James M. (1998). "Radiology of Gunshot Wounds". In Brogdon, B.G. Forensic Radiology. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 222. ISBN 0-8493-8105-3. Retrieved September 25, 2011. 
  3. ^ Raul JS, Deck C, Meyer F, Geraut A, Willinger R, Ludes B (Mar 2007). "A finite element model investigation of gunshot injury". Int J Legal Med. 121 (2): 143–6. doi:10.1007/s00414-005-0070-x. PMID 16362821. 
  4. ^ "background: three hits". Retrieved June 14, 2014.