"Defense" type wounds in suicide

Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2018 Sep;14(3):402-405. doi: 10.1007/s12024-018-9957-y. Epub 2018 Feb 17.


"Defense" type wounds are sustained when a victim is attempting to ward off an attacker, or a weapon. A 39-year-old woman is reported who was found deceased with incised wounds to the dorsa of both hands that resembled defense wounds. Examination of the flexor surfaces of both wrists, however, revealed horizontal incised wounds typical of self-infliction. Perfusion of the subclavian arteries produced leakage of water from peripheral veins within wounds on both hands and the right wrist. Death was due to exsanguination from incised wounds of the hands and right wrist; manner suicide. This case demonstrates the difficulties that may arise in differentiating self-inflicted from assaultive wounds. On occasion suicidal sharp force injuries may be multiple and in atypical locations. In these circumstances a high index of suspicion for homicide must be maintained.

Keywords: Defense-type; Homicide; Incised; Sharp force; Suicide.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exsanguination
  • Female
  • Hand Injuries / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Suicide*
  • Wounds, Stab / pathology*
  • Wrist Injuries / pathology*