Multiple stab wounds: understanding the manner of death through the psychological autopsy

doi: 10.7417/CT.2017.2012

  • G. Di Vella Department of Public Health and Pediatrics, Section of Legal Medicine, University of Turin, Torino
  • I. Grattagliano Department of Internal Medicine and Public Medicine, Section of Criminology and Forensic Psychiatry, University of Bari, Bari
  • S. Curti Department of Public Health and Pediatrics, Section of Legal Medicine, University of Turin, Torino
  • R. Catanesi Department of Internal Medicine and Public Medicine, Section of Criminology and Forensic Psychiatry, University of Bari, Bari
  • M. K. Sullivan Department of Veterans Affairs, Phoenix VAHCS. Phoenix, Indiana, US
  • L. Tattoli Department of Public Health and Pediatrics, Section of Legal Medicine, University of Turin, Torino

Abstract

A 48-year-old physical therapist with no history of psychiatric disorders or suicidal tendencies was found dead by his relatives inside his apartment. Multiple stab wounds were present on the chest and the abdomen. Several more superficial cuts were also seen on the neck and the left wrist. At the death scene, there was a large pool of blood in the room, with secondary droplets and stains; a kitchen knife was found beside the body, and a suicide note on a table.
Especially the number of wounds raised strong suspicion of a homicide in the first instance but some circumstances (the farewell letter, the absence of clothing injuries, no signs of third-party involvement) and autopsy findings (absence of defense or blunt injuries, the localization of the wounds, the presence of hesitation marks) pointed toward a suicide etiology. Because of the many stab injuries and the lack of a psychiatric history, further forensic investigations were required including a so-called psychological autopsy.
This case report highlights that only a comprehensive interpretation of all the elements (circumstances, the scene of death, autopsy findings, and psychological autopsy) can lead to the correct solution of atypical cases of suicide

Published
2017-07-13
How to Cite
DI VELLA, G. et al. Multiple stab wounds: understanding the manner of death through the psychological autopsy. La Clinica Terapeutica, [S.l.], v. 168, n. 4, p. e233 - e239, july 2017. ISSN 1972-6007. Available at: <http://www.clinicaterapeutica.it/ojs/index.php/ClinicaTerapeutica/article/view/49>. Date accessed: 14 nov. 2018.