Multiple gunshot suicide

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Multiple gunshot suicide occurs when a person commits suicide by inflicting multiple gunshots on oneself 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]

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, once again surviving the shot. 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.[5][6]

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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. (ed.). Forensic Radiology. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-8493-8105-8. 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.
  5. ^ Herdson, PB (2000). "Shotgun suicide with a difference". Med J Aust. 173 (11–12): 604–5. PMID 11379504.
  6. ^ PB, Herdson; Dellar, GG; McFawn, P; Fuderer, EM; Tait, R (1999). "Third time lucky--an unusual suicide". Medicine, Science, and the Law. 39 (3): 262–5. doi:10.1177/002580249903900313. PMID 10466323.

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