Original ArticlesA Retrospective Study of Blade Wound Characteristics in Suicide and HomicideKrywanczyk, Alison MD*; Shapiro, Steven MD†Author Information From the *Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Vermont Medical Center; and †Vermont Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of Vermont, Burlington, VT. Manuscript received January 9, 2015; accepted June 7, 2015. The authors report no conflict of interest. Reprints: Alison Krywanczyk, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, EP-2, 111 Colchester Ave, Burlington, VT 05401. E-mail: [email protected]. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2015 - Volume 36 - Issue 4 - p 305-310 doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000188 Buy Metrics Abstract The distinction between self-inflicted blade wounds and blade wounds inflicted by another can be difficult in situations where there is little available history or context. We reviewed homicides and suicides in the past 10 years at the Vermont Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to define the characteristics of homicidal and suicidal blade wounds. All homicides and suicides involving blade wounds, not just those in which blade wounds were the cause of death, were included. Information regarding victim demographics, location and type of injuries, toxicology, and evidence of suicidality was gathered. Blade wounds were the cause of death in 85.7% of homicides but only in 36% of suicides. Hanging and gunshot wounds were the cause of death in 28% and 24% of suicides, respectively. Multiple stab wounds were found in 10% of homicides and in 0% of suicides, whereas multiple incised wounds were found in 60% of suicides and only 10% of homicides. However, several unusual instances of suicide were found, including suicides with clothing damage or bone or cartilage injury from blade wounds. No characteristics of blade wounds were definitive for homicide or suicide. History and circumstances of the scene are thus crucial in determining the manner of death. © 2015 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.