Asphyxial Deaths: A Retrospective Study and Review of the Literature

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An increasing death rate as a result of violence constitutes a large group in medicolegal autopsies. Specially, deaths due to asphyxia are one of the most important causes in violence deaths.

During the 21-year period from January 1984 to October 2004, there were 134 asphyxial deaths autopsied by the Department of Forensic Medicine, Trakya University, Edirne, Turkey. Asphyxial deaths comprise 15.7% of all forensic autopsies; 20.8% of the cases are aged between 30 and 39 years, and the average age was 41.9 years. Males constitute 79.8% of all the cases.

The most frequent method of asphyxiation death is hanging (56 cases, 41.8%), followed by drowning (30.5%) and carbon monoxide poisoning (8.2%). More violent methods, such as ligature or manual strangulations, constitute 2.9% and 2.3% of all asphyxial deaths, respectively. Although it was varying according to the methods of asphyxiation, suicide was found to be the manner of death in the majority of the cases.

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