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American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181efba3a
Original Articles

Agonal Sequences in 14 Filmed Hangings With Comments on the Role of the Type of Suspension, Ischemic Habituation, and Ethanol Intoxication on the Timing of Agonal Responses

Sauvageau, Anny MD, MSc*; LaHarpe, Romano MD†; King, David MD‡; Dowling, Graeme MD*; Andrews, Sam MD§; Kelly, Sean MD¶; Ambrosi, Corinne MD¶; Guay, Jean-Pierre PhD∥; Geberth, Vernon J. MS, MPS; for the Working Group on Human Asphyxia

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Abstract

The Working Group on Human Asphyxia has analyzed 14 filmed hangings: 9 autoerotic accidents, 4 suicides, and 1 homicide. The following sequence of agonal responses was observed: rapid loss of consciousness in 10 ± 3 seconds, mild generalized convulsions in 14 ± 3 seconds, decerebrate rigidity in 19 ± 5 seconds, beginning of deep rhythmic abdominal respiratory movements in 19 ± 5 seconds, decorticate rigidity in 38 ± 15 seconds, loss of muscle tone in 1 minute 17 seconds ± 25 seconds, end of deep abdominal respiratory movements in 1 minute 51 seconds ± 30 seconds, and last muscle movement in 4 minutes 12 seconds ± 2 minutes 29 seconds. The type of suspension and ethanol intoxication does not seem to influence the timing of the agonal responses, whereas ischemic habituation in autoerotic practitioner might decelerate the late responses to hanging.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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