Year: 2016 Source: Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging. (2016). DOI: SIEC No: 20160562

Suicide is the eighth cause of mortality in France and the leading cause in people aged between 25 and 34 years. The most common methods of suicide are hanging, self-poisoning with medicines and firearms. Postmortem computed tomography (CT) is a useful adjunct to autopsy to confirm suicide and exclude other causes of death. At autopsy, fractures of the hyoid bone or thyroid cartilage, or both, are found in more than 50% of suicidal hangings. Cervical vertebra fractures are rare and only seen in suicide victims jumping from a great height. Three-dimensional reconstructions from CT data are useful to visualize the ligature mark on the neck. In suicides by firearm, postmortem CT shows entry and exit wounds, parenchymal lesions along the bullet path, as well as projectiles in case of penetrating trauma. However, in the chest and abdomen it is more difficult to identify the path of the projectile. Postmortem CT also shows specific features of suicide by drowning or stabbing, but its use is limited in cases of self-poisoning. The use of postmortem CT is also limited by decomposition and change of body position. This article presents the imaging features seen on postmortem CT according to the method of suicide.