Year: 2015 Source: American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology.(2015).00(00):1-6.Post Author Corrections: July 30, 2015 doi:10.1097/PAF.0000000000000188 SIEC No: 20150404

The distinction between self-inflicted blade wounds and blade wounds inflicted by another can be difficult in situations where there is little available history or context. We reviewed homicides and suicides in the past 10 years at the Vermont Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to define the characteristics of homicidal and suicidal blade wounds. All homicides and suicides involving blade wounds, not just those in which blade wounds were the cause of death, were included. Information regarding victim demographics, location and type of injuries, toxicology, and evidence of suicidality was gathered. Blade wounds were the cause of death in 85.7% of homicides but only in 36% of suicides. Hanging and gunshot wounds were the cause of death in 28% and 24% of suicides, respectively. Multiple stab wounds were found in 10% of homicides and in 0% of suicides, whereas multiple incised wounds were found in 60% of suicides and only 10% of homicides. However, several unusual instances of suicide were found, including suicides with clothing damage or bone or cartilage injury from blade wounds. No characteristics of blade wounds were definitive for homicide or suicide. History and circumstances of the scene are thus crucial in determining the manner of death.