Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Forensic Post: Asphyxial Death; Hanging

As a continuation to my previous forensic post, today im gonna talk about the second asphyxia death, hanging. I never seen autopsy on hanging also, another “cis…!” for that…Honestly, writing this post itself feels a bit creepy, but that's me, I'm not sure why I'm kinda attracted to these creepy stuff. But let this post be a lesson to us all, SUICIDE IS PAINFUL, NEVER TAKE YOUR OWN LIFE 

Death by Hanging

Is also a form of asphyxia death, where the body is wholly or partially suspended by a ligature around the neck. Simple eh? But you see, even thou someone might hang themselves; it’s not necessarily for them to actually die due to asphyxia. For all you know, it might be death due to cerebral congestion from the external jugular vein compression (4.4 lbs), cerebral anoxia from common carotid artery compression (11 lbs), vagal inhibition from vagus/carotid body compression causing cardiac arrest, fracture or dislocation of cervical vertebra or it could be a combination of both coma and asphyxia. Well, all of that sounds painful enough!

Of course, we should also think about the manner of death, in this case, natural can be rule out because it’s not likely someone found to be hanged would be dead naturally ( but if someone were to die naturally but then was hanged after their death to make it look like suicide, then it is possible right? But who would do such a thing? That would be so twisted, why am I thinking as such? Heh!). So the focus should be on suicidal, murder and well, accidental is also possible but would be quite rare.

What are the signs?

Externally you can see a ligature mark and it is the ONLY specific sign. This ligature mark depends on the nature if the ligature use and the types of knots.

A fixed knot is when we “ikat mati awal-awal”, so once the person is hanged, the knot won’t move. Because usually the knot will be loose, the ligature mark seen will be in V shape since the upper and “knot” part of the ligature is not in contact with the skin.

A running noose is the adjustable knot. Once pressure is exerted on the ligature, usually by the weight of the person, the knot adjusted to the neck and chokes the person to death. Thou it sounds terrible, some believe that it’s less painful compare to the fixed knot (but how can they know right? Hehe…). Due to the nature of the knot, a running noose ligature mark will be complete, circular and more horizontal and we may even see the knot impression mark.

That’s the first thing about ligatures, there are more things to observe at the ligature mark:
  • Where is the point of suspension?
  • What would the duration of suspension be? Longer duration even prominent ligature mark
  • What is the constriction force, complete or partial, complete hang? Or maybe just kneeling or sitting position
  • What is the texture of the ligature, diameter, single or double, shape and pattern? Help knowing the type of ligature used
  • Are there any scratch marks at the neck near the ligatures? This indicates struggling to be free, thou this does not rule out suicidal since hanging could be painful

Other important feature of hanging that can be observed is
  • the head, normally it would inclined to the opposite site of suspension,
  • the face will be congested, the tip of the tongue can be protruded and bitten,
  • the saliva might be dribbling from the mouth and see the eyes, it might be close, partially open or might have a serene look
  • the penis would be turgid, congested and semi erected
  • the nail is cyanosed
  • and the postmortem staining will depend on the parts of the suspended bodies. Since those who dies due to hanging normally is not lying on the ground, the usual post mortem staining at the back would be absent. Instead it may confined to the feet, if its full hanging, or at the legs, buttocks, hands and arm if the bodies were found to be in sitting position. Interesting isn’t it?
back to Allah, the One and Only True God

We always think of hanging as suicidal, and most of the time it is. Taking life with our own hands is consider as “major sin” and you don’t get to heaven if you do that. No matter what happen in our life, there is always a way to solve it. God don’t create problems for us so that we will be stuck for the rest of our life, thou sometime it may seem that way, but largely it depends on our own effort to actually do the right thing. To all problems from any aspects of life, the right thing to do is ALWAYS and ALWAYS to return to your beliefs. Seek the right way by diverting ourselves to the right path. After all the main reason for God to send a “big test” to us is to make us divert ourselves back to Him, beside testing our belief. So suicide is NEVER the way to get out from any sort of problems! There’s a lesson to be learn here kids! Till next time, thank you for reading! :D

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