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