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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

238

MEDICAL JtlHJSPRUDENCE

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUICIDAL, HOMICIDAL AND
ACCIDENTAL WOUNDS

In the case of death occurring from wounds the question is often raised
as to whether they were the result of suicide, homicide or accident. The
answer is not always easy, but it can be given to some extent by a medical
practitioner by noting the following points : —

1.   The situation and character of the wounds,

2.   The number, direction and extent of the wounds.

3.   The condition of the locality, and the surroundings of the wounded
person.

1. The Situation and Character of the Wounds.—Suieidal wounds are
usually on the front or on the sides of the body, and affect the vital organs.
They are usually incised, punctured or gunshot wounds. Suicidal incised
wounds are generally situated on the front of the body in easily accessible
positions, especially, on the throat or chest. These may be found in
unusual regions. For instance, a woman2- cut the walls of her vagina, and
when the intestines protruded she pulled dowzi several feet, and cut them
off. Incised and punctured wounds situated'on the back, or in such a
position as cannot be easily
reached by a suicide, are
homicidal, though a suicide
may rarely produce wounds
on himself which may have
the appearance of being
homicidal. A carpenter's
assistant, 60 years old, com-
mitted suicide by cutting
the back of his neck in the
middle with a sharp razor
blade.-3

Incised or punctured
wounds may be caused acci-
dentally by falling upon a
sharp cutting weapon held
in the hand or upon a sharp
pointed object. Such wounds
may be situated at such
places as may give rise to
a suspicion of homicide if
there was no eye-witness at
the ..time of the accident.
A. S. Dawson2^ reports the
case of a Burmese male,
^who was descending a
bamboo ladder in his house
when he suddenly slipped
and fell a distance of 12 or
13 feet. At Hie time when
he was descending the lad-
der he had in his hand a

Fig. 101.—Cuts on the fingers and palm caused by

grasping the blade of a knife and indicating

homicide.

long sharp knife or cfe0> bis hand resting on his left shoulder; as he fell this
slipped off and struck him oa the back over the apical region of the left

22.    A- Roberts©**, Jfed. J^tis. &®l Toxic., Ed. IV, p. 138.

23.   F. Klein, Schweiz, Med. Wacfcr., Sep. 19, 1942, 72, p. 1,044; Med.-Leg. and Crimi-
nolog. Rev., 1943, Vot XI, Part I, p. 4t.

24.    Ind, Med. Gdz^ A&ni 1$28^ p. 2§L