Multiple gunshot suicide occurs when an individual commits suicide by firearm and inflicts two or more gunshots upon themselves before becoming incapacitated. It does not include suicides where the firearms are operated by other persons, such as suicide by cop.
Multiple gunshot suicides engender controversy because of the popular misconception that it is impossible for an individual to inflict more than one gunshot upon themselves. Because of this many are associated with conspiracy theories, which hold that those individuals actually were the victims of a homicide. Forensic medicine has discovered, however, that suicides by firearm involving multiple gunshots, although uncommon, are by no means rare; as many as eight percent of suicides by firearm involve multiple gunshots. Suicides involving as many as six self-inflicted gunshots have been documented in the literature.
Incapacitation from a gunshot injury results from a decrease in the functioning of the central nervous system. In a suicide by firearm, immediate incapacitation can be achieved by direct disruption to brain stem tissue. Rapid incapacitation can be achieved indirectly by cerebral hypoxemia resulting from massive bleeding from the heart, the thoracic aorta, or the pulmonary artery. Damage to other major organs – the lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen – results only in delayed incapacitation. Incapacitation by a shot to the head is achieved when the bullet penetrates the telencephalon; however, numerous bullet trajectories, including a shot between the eyes, do not achieve this penetration.
One particular case has been documented from Australia. In February 1995, a man committed suicide on parkland in Canberra, Australia. He took a pump action shotgun and shot himself in the chest. The load passed through the chest without hitting a rib, and went out the other side. He then walked fifteen meters, reloaded, leaned the shotgun against his throat, and shot his throat and part of his jaw. Breathing through this gunshot-inflicted tracheotomy, he reloaded, walked 136 meters to a hill slope, lay down on the slope, held the gun against his chest with his hands and operated the trigger with his toes. This shot entered the thoracic cavity and demolished the heart, killing him.
- Pierre Bérégovoy
- Vincent Foster
- David Jacobs
- François de Grossouvre
- Yuriy Kravchenko
- Abu Nidal
- Gary Webb
- List of unusual deaths
- Sam Stanton, "Reporter's suicide confirmed by coroner. A flood of inquiries about Gary Webb's shooting death prompts statement,"[dead link] Sacramento Bee, December 15, 2004.
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