Suicide by hanging under the influence of ketamine and ethanol

Forensic Sci Int. 2010 Oct 10;202(1-3):e23-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.04.047. Epub 2010 May 26.


Psychiatric deviations resulting from alcohol and illegal drug abuse may be considered a major risk factor for suicidal behavior. This report describes a suicide by hanging, under the influence of ketamine and alcohol. The victim was a 29-year-old man, found dead hanging by the neck from a metallic beam in the ceiling of his workplace. Besides characteristic signs of hanging seen at the autopsy, toxicological analysis revealed a femoral blood concentration of ketamine and ethanol of 1.3mg/L and 0.66g/L, respectively. Positive qualitative results for ketamine were also detected, in a powder found near the victim and on the victim's nostrils, which suggests nasal inhaling as administration route. The hallucinogenic effects caused by ketamine, associated with an increased sensitivity of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors to ketamine as result of the previous history of alcoholism should be considered as potential inducing factors in suicide behaviors.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / adverse effects
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / blood
  • Asphyxia / pathology*
  • Carotid Artery Injuries / pathology
  • Carotid Artery, Common / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / adverse effects
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / blood
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Ketamine / adverse effects*
  • Ketamine / blood
  • Male
  • Neck Injuries / pathology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Suicide*


  • Anesthetics, Dissociative
  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol
  • Ketamine