Volume 47, Issue 2 (March 2002)
Cervical Fracture, Decapitation, and Vehicle-assisted Suicide
Two cases of vehicle-assisted suicides are described in males aged 33 and 24 years, respectively. In both cases the victims had tied ropes between stationary objects and their necks and then attempted to drive their vehicles away. The speed with which the vehicles were driven resulted in forces great enough to cause fracture-dislocation of the cervical spine in Case 1 and virtual decapitation in Case 2. Although inadvertent alteration of the death scene in Case 1, with removal of the rope, complicated the initial assessment, the extent of soft tissue and bony injuries was such that ligature strangulation appeared unlikely.