Analysis of cases of suicide by self-immolation in the post-mortem material of the Department
of Forensic Medicine in Cracow Cover Image

Analysis of cases of suicide by self-immolation in the post-mortem material of the Department of Forensic Medicine in Cracow
Analysis of cases of suicide by self-immolation in the post-mortem material of the Department of Forensic Medicine in Cracow

Author(s): Katarzyna Klimaszewska, Patrycja Jakubiec, Aneta Kotlarek, Wiktoria Wojturska, Zuzanna Buś, Aleksandra Nosal, Tomasz Konopka
Subject(s): Criminology, Health and medicine and law
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego
Keywords: self-immolation; suicide; burns;

Summary/Abstract: Aim of the study: Analysis of self-immolation cases and distribution of the resulting burns and their degree.Material and methods: The study included 16 cases from the Department of Forensic Medicine, Jagiellonian University Medical College in Cracow from 2000-2022 in which the cause of death was self-immolation. Based on the analysis of photographs and autopsy reports, drawings were made showing the exact distribution and nature of the injuries, moreover, the approximate percentage of body surface area affected was determined as well as the frequency of involvement of specific areas of the body, and the presence of previous diseases and mental disorders including previous suicide attempts.Results: 81% of victims were male. Two age groups were predominant among the cases analyzed, namely, individuals around the age of 20, and those between 50 and 60 years of age. 44% of the deceased had burns exceeding 80% of total body surface. The most frequently involved body areas were the extremities and chest as well as head and neck. Fourth-degree burns were most prevalent on the head and neck, third-degree burns prevailed on the upper and lower extremities, second-degree burns were mostly found on the chest, and first-degree burns - on the lower extremities. There were no cases of fourth-degree burns of the buttocks. 38% of the subjects had a history of substance abuse, 56% suffered from mental illnesses, whereas 31% attempted suicide in the past. Conclusions: The distribution of burns in self-immolation cases is inhomogeneous. The most frequently affected area was the head, neck, chest and extremities, most likely due to victims dousing themselves with a flammable substance from the top of the head thro- ugh the chest. In all cases, the immediate cause of death was burn disease, regardless of the size of the body surface area affected by the burns. The majority of victims had a history of mental illness, substance abuse or suicide attempts.

  • Issue Year: 73/2023
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 234-246
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: English, Polish