Figure 14.5 Lacerations of palm and fifth finger from gas escaping from cylinder gap of .357 Magnum revolver. Hand was around cylinder at time of discharge.
producing a wound of the forehead that had all the characteristics of a primary contact wound (Figure 14.6).
In the head, the most common site for a handgun entrance wound is the temple. Although most right-handed individuals shoot themselves in the right temple and left-handed individuals in the left temple, this pattern is not absolute. In a study by Stone of 125 right-handed individuals who shot themselves in the temple, seven (5.6%) shot themselves in the left temple.3
With handguns, after the temple, the most common sites in the head, in decreasing order of occurrence, are the mouth, the underside of the chin, and the forehead. There are people, however, who will be different and shoot themselves on the top of the head, in the ear, in the eye, etc. The author has seen a number of unquestionable cases of suicide in which individuals have shot themselves in the back of the head. These have occurred not only with handguns but also with rifles and shotguns (Figures 14.7 and 14.8). In another unusual case, the entrance wound was on the side of the chest, in the mid-axillary line. Thus, the fact that a wound is in an unusual location does not necessarily mean that it cannot be self-inflicted, though it is wise to always start with the presumption that such a case is a homicide.
As previously noted, with handguns, the sex of the victim appears to play a part in determining where they shoot themselves. In a study by the author (Table 14.1), while 83.5% of the men shot themselves in the head, only 72% of the women did. Stone, in a study of 703 male and 192 female suicides
using handguns, reported virtually the same incidence, 84% for males and 68% for females.3
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