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Planned Complex Suicide by Self-Poisoning and a Manipulated Blank Revolver: Remarkable Findings Due to Multiple Gunshot Wounds and Self-Made Wooden Projectiles

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 48 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2003 Pages: 1371-1378
Stephan A. Padosch M.D.; Peter H. Schmidt M.D.; Burkhard Madea M.D.
Date Published
November 2003
8 pages
This article discusses an unusual case study of planned complex suicide.
Planned complex suicide refers to a special kind of suicide combining several methods to ensure the fatal outcome. A case of planned complex suicide with poisoning and multiple self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head using wooden dowel projectiles is reported because of its unique findings and possible misinterpretation. The case involved ingestion of insecticide and the infliction of multiple gunshot wounds to the head with remarkable wooden projectiles using an extensively manipulated blank gun. The force exerted by the propellant gases was used to propel the wooden dowels out of the barrel. The remaining unexpended self-made bullet was helpful to explain the mode of administration of the wooden dowels. Particularly in countries with restrictive weapon laws, blank guns, air guns, or other devices manipulated to fire projectiles are commonly used in such suicidal attempts. The most frequently described manipulations in blank guns refer to the exchange of genuine parts, such as the barrel. In other cases, blank cartridges are altered by adding self-constructed projectiles, usually of metallic origin. The entire removal of various security devices regularly prescribed by weapon laws has only rarely been reported. A fatality presenting with several unique and unusual findings, giving rise to the risk of misinterpretation, could be unequivocally determined to be a rare case of planned complex suicide. The presented case demonstrates the importance of close collaboration between the police firearm laboratory and forensic pathology in practical casework. 6 figures, 10 references