Volume 49, Issue 3 (May 2004)
Suicide with a Butcher's Bolt
The captive bolt pistol is an atypical firearm exclusively produced and used for butchery of breeding animals, but in some rare cases, it has been used as a lethal weapon for committing suicide by butchers, breeders and other people who have access to such weapons during their professional activities. This study describes the suicide committed by a butcher in the province of Udine (N. Italy) in 2001 who shot himself with his own captive bolt pistol that produced in the right temporal region a circular wound and a bone lesion of the temporal squama with a groove involving the frontal lobe; he died five days later of the fatal consequences of the meningo-encephalic lesions. The medico-legal issues implicated in this case, seen in the light of the data reported in the international literature, illustrate the difficulties faced when diagnosing these types of lesions, bearing in mind their rarity and peculiar nature, and introduce elements of differential diagnosis regarding lesions produced by similar weapons that lead to ascertainment of the event as accidental, suicidal, or homicidal.