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Wheelchair-Assisted Ligature Strangulation: An Unusual Suicide by a Quadriparetic

Martin Janík, Jozef Krajčovič, František Novomeský, Ľubomír Straka, Petr Hejna
American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology 2019 March 23
Multiple sclerosis, currently incurable and potentially profoundly disabling demyelinating central nervous system disease, is associated with higher occurrence of suicide as affected individuals are prone to major depression and psychosis. Despite progressively incapacitating neurologic impairment, well-staffed institutions, and limited repertoire of methods of suicide, which prevents patients from purposefully ending their lives, suicide-determined patients typically commit suicide resulting from a medication overdose, sharp force traumata, self-neglect, or deliberate starvation. Here we describe a successful suicide committed by a 39-year-old wheelchair-bound, institutionalized, quadriparetic male patient with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis with secondary progressive clinical course who utilized his motorized wheelchair to terminate his life. He tied a rope between his neck and wall bars and then propelled the wheelchair forwardly. The acceleration of the wheelchair resulted in ligature self-strangulation. This case report, with a review of the literature, is noteworthy for the rareness of the wheelchair-related fatality combined with an unusual, if not entirely unseen, suicidal mechanism in severely disabled adult.


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