Research Day

Unusual Suicide Using Two Firearms

Document Type





600,000 persons committed suicide in the United States from 1999-2015, with the highest annual rate in 20151. In 2016, 52% of suicides involved firearms.

We present a case of a man who committed suicide by simultaneously holding two handguns against opposite sides of his head.

The case was selected from the files of one of the authors (AC).

A 42-year-old man was found prone on the floor with a semi-automatic handgun in his right hand and a revolver in his left hand. At autopsy, a contact gunshot wound was identified on his left temple, with a bullet track passing through the brain and creating a partial exit wound complex on the right temple, which was associated with a muzzle-imprint abrasion consistent with having been produced by the semi-automatic pistol. Firearm examination revealed that the revolver was the only weapon that discharged. The cause of death was a gunshot wound of the head.

In most cases of firearm suicides, the findings are relatively straight-forward: Bullet trajectory is not ambiguous, only a single shot is fired, and only a single weapon is used. This case highlights the fact that, in occasional cases of suicidal gunshot wounds, multiple weapons are employed. Additionally, the case represents an unusual circumstance where, despite the presence of two weapons and the appearance of two contact wounds, only one of the firearms discharged.

Although unusual findings in suicidal gunshot wounds can cause confusion, correlating scene, autopsy, and firearms examination findings allow for proper interpretation and certification.

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