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Ling L i M.D.; Smialek, John E. M.D.
The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 1994
Original Articles: PDF Only

This study is a retrospective analysis of 139 cases of falls and/or jumps from heights, examined at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland during the 6-year period from 1987 through 1992. A total of 56 individuals (40%) committed suicide by jumping from heights and 72 (52%) fell accidentally. Of the 72 accidental falls, 36 (50%) were work related. Two cases involved victims of homicide and the causes in nine cases remain undetermined. Of the 139 cases examined, 89 individuals (64%) fell or jumped from buildings, 29 (21%) from bridges, 15 (11%) from ladders, and 6 (4%) from trees or electric poles. Of the 29 individuals who fell or jumped from bridges, 14 went into water. Falls and jumps most often involved whites (78%) and males (82%). Their ages ranged from 4 to 83 years, with the majority in their 20s and 30s. Of the 124 people who fell or jumped from heights and landed on the ground, the head was the most frequently injured body region (70%), followed by the chest (66%), the abdomen (48%), extremities (28%), and the neck (19%). Of the 124 victims who landed on the ground, 63 sustained lethal injuries involving multiple organs. In contrast with ground impacts, water impact injuries were much less severe. Five of the 14 victims who jumped from bridges into water were relatively uninjured and died from drowning even though they jumped from heights of 100–200 feet (30–60 m). Specific issues related to the investigation of those work-related falls and falls from heights and impact with water, together with epidemiologic considerations of all of the deaths from falls and jumps, are presented.

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