Concealment of pregnancy and newborn infant abandonment are closely associated with neonaticide, the killing of an infant within the first 24 h of life or less than 28-30 days depending on the jurisdiction. Abandonment of newborn infants occurs throughout the world and often the outcome for the infant is death. Together with neonaticide it is felt to be one of the least preventable crimes. In this retrospective study we present all forensically known Danish cases of abandoned newborn infant corpses, covering the period from 1997 to 2008. Eleven newborn infant corpses were found; we registered characteristics of the newborn infants and the circumstances of the cases based on autopsy reports. One further newborn infant was included, dating back to 1992, as it was found to be connected with one of the later cases. The mean age of the women who abandoned their newborn infants was 22 years, and five of the autopsied newborn infants were probably alive when abandoned. In two cases the newborn infants were half siblings and abandoned by the same mother. The time span from abandonment to when the newborn infant was found ranged from hours to 7 years. Two-thirds of the newborn infants were girls (66.6%). The most common means of disposal was in a plastic bag (~60%); only one newborn infant was wearing clothes when found. Causes of death were usually given as asphyxia, brain injury or simply undetermined. Two-thirds of the newborn infants showed signs of violence. None of the newborn infants had congenital malformations.
Alcohol and substance abuse in general is a risk factor for suicide, but very little is known about the acute effect in relation to suicide method. Based on information from 18,894 medico-legal death investigations, including toxicological findings and manner of death, did the present study investigate whether acute influence of alcohol, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or central stimulants (amphetamine and cocaine) was related to the use of a violent suicide method, in comparison with the nonviolent method self-poisoning and alcohol-/illicit drug-negative suicide decedents. Multivariate analysis was conducted, and the results revealed that acute influence of THC was related to using the violent suicide method–– jumping from a height (RR 1.62; 95% CI 1.01–2.41). Alcohol intoxication was not related to any violent method, while the central stimulant-positive suicide decedent had a higher, albeit not significant, risk of several violent methods. The study contributes with elucidating suicide methods in relation to acute intoxication.
Autoerotic asphyxia is the practice of self-inducing cerebral anoxia, usually by hanging, strangulation, or suffocation, during masturbation. This study investigated the relationships between: asphyxiators' ages; two paraphilias commonly accompanying autoerotic asphyxia, bondage and transvestism; and various other types of simultaneous sexual behaviour. Subjects were two concurrent series totalling 117 males aged 10-56 who died accidentally during autoerotic asphyxial activities. Data concerning sexual paraphernalia at the scene of death or among the deceased's effects were extracted from coronors' files using standardised protocols. Anal self-stimulation with dildos, etc., and self-observation with mirrors or cameras were correlated with transvestism. Older asphyxiators were more likely to have been simultaneously engaged in bondage or transvestism, suggesting elaboration of the masturbatory ritual over time. The greatest degree of transvestism was associated with intermediate rather than high levels of bondage, suggesting that response competition from bondage may limit asphyxiators' involvement in a third paraphilia like transvestism.
Finland has one of the highest homicide rates in Western Europe, and almost every tenth homicide is caused by asphyxiation. Reliable statistics, a strict legislation, and an exceptionally high medico-legal autopsy rate formed a base for a nationwide analysis of asphyxia homicides (n = 383) during 30 years. The cases were identified through multiple records, and all the forensic pathology case files were studied in detail. In more than one out of five cases, there were indications of staging, and the homicide was revealed first at autopsy in close to one in ten cases. The vast majority of the homicides took place in private locations and involved persons known to each other. Every third victim was an intimate partner, and every tenth a child. Almost half of the victims died from manual strangulation, one in three from ligature strangulation. Smothering, choking, neck compression with a firm object, and thoracic compression were more rare methods. Drownings were excluded from this study material. Of all the victims, 7% had no observable external injuries. Petechiae were recorded in approximately in 61%, laryngohyoid fractures in 47%, and vocal cord hemorrhages in 16% of the cases. Every tenth female victim had genital injuries. Toxicological analyses were performed in close to all of the cases, and almost three out of four victims tested positive for blood alcohol. The various aspects of the demographics and autopsy findings covered in this study contribute reliable and accurate data to further strengthen the spectrum of observable medico-legal characteristics of asphyxia homicides.
Asphyxiophilia, the desire for a state of oxygen deficiency in order to enhance sexual excitement and orgasm, is a very precarious form of sexual gratification. Asphyxiophilia has been difficult to document since it is mostly practiced in secrecy and solitude and is usually not discovered until the practitioner has been found dead. Most of the information about asphyxiophilia is found in police reports and medicolegal investigations by doctors of forensic medicine. Our study is based on information from 18 doctors of forensic medicine in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Six sources indicate similar frequencies (0.5-1 cases per million inhabitants per year) of observed deaths in Scandinavia. Although the frequency of observed deaths is different from the true mortality rate, this study gives a good illustration of the estimated prevalence. This accuracy is enhanced by the length of the observation periods (10-40 years).
This paper presents an unusual form of sexual (masturbatory) activity and brings this unusual cause of death to wider medical attention and understanding. All 19 cases of autoerotic asphyxial death that occurred between 1978 and 1989 in the province of Alberta, Canada were reviewed. The fatal victim of autoerotic asphyxia is typically a single male aged 15 to 29 years. Autoerotic sexual activity is typically performed in isolation; often there is evidence of repetitive practice. The accidental death usually results when the "safety" mechanism designed to alleviate neck compression fails. Often the first sign of the activity (usually a surprise to family and friends) is death itself. Physicians who are alert to the practice may suggest counselling when patients present with sexual concerns, unusual marks around the neck or evidence of abrasions to limbs suggesting bondage or other masochistic practices.
Comment In: Can J Psychiatry. 1995 Aug;40(6):363-47585413
It is written in almost all articles on autoerotic deaths that these fatalities account for about 500 to 1000 deaths per year in the United States and Canada. However, contrary to the general belief, this incidence rate was not obtained through a study, but it is an estimation based on 30-year unpublished data from Canada and England. In the present retrospective study from 1985 to 2009, 38 cases of autoerotic deaths were identified in the province of Alberta (Canada). This number corresponds to an incidence of 0.56 autoerotic deaths per million inhabitants per year. The vast majority of these deaths are related to typical, predominantly asphyxial methods, such as hanging. The bodies were most commonly found in basements, bedrooms, and bathrooms. There is no clear evidence of a preferential time of day for these deaths, but there appear to be slightly more autoerotic deaths during summer. The incidence of autoerotic deaths is higher in big cities compared with rural areas. The previously published estimate of 500 to 1000 'autoerotic deaths per year should not be used for Canada. An incidence of 0.2 to 0.5 cases per million inhabitants per year is a better estimate of the incidence of autoerotic deaths. The incidence in United States should be reassessed using epidemiological studies.
Overweight and obesity is associated with lower rates of suicide. However, little is known about the association with different suicide methods. We studied the association between groups of body mass index and suicide methods. We identified all medicolegal autopsy cases with a cause of death due to external causes in Sweden during 1999-2013 (N = 39,368) and included 11,715 suicides and 13,316 accidents or homicides as controls. We applied multinomial regression models adjusted for age, sex, year and season of death. Obesity was associated with suicidal intoxication, OR 1.15 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02, 1.30] and negatively associated with all other suicide methods studied. Underweight showed a negative association with suicidal drowning and there was an indication towards a negative association with hanging in men OR 0.81 (95% CI 0.65, 1.01). We conclude that body mass index (BMI) is associated with the choice of suicide method. This may be of importance in a public health perspective, e.g. potential for prevention of intoxications. In the practice of forensic medicine, the physician's level of suspicion may rise if the apparent suicidal method is less common for the individual characteristics of the deceased, such as BMI.