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automagic
12-27-2010, 02:36 AM
I know a suicide is when someone intends to kill themselves and succeeds, but what if there was no intention. For example if a stunt motorcyclists decides to jump 15 flaming cars but does not succeed and ends in his demise what is that death classified as? What would you call something less extreme, such as some dying by cleaning their gun and having the gun go off?

Diogenes the Cynic
12-27-2010, 02:42 AM
Either "accidental" or "death by misadventure."

bahimes
12-27-2010, 03:51 AM
Darwin Award.

Jackmannii
12-27-2010, 08:44 AM
When someone dies while "cleaning their gun", it is almost always a suicide (http://aaimedicine.org/journal-of-insurance-medicine/jim/2000/032-04-0266.pdf) that the victim is attempting to disguise as an accident.

Sailboat
12-27-2010, 08:55 AM
When someone dies while "cleaning their gun", it is almost always a suicide (http://aaimedicine.org/journal-of-insurance-medicine/jim/2000/032-04-0266.pdf) that the victim is attempting to disguise as an accident.

That doesn't surprise me. I also wonder about that in the case of single-vehicle accidents, especially those "at night/high speed/no seat belt" ones we see every so often.

blindboyard
12-27-2010, 09:50 AM
When someone dies while "cleaning their gun", it is almost always a suicide (http://aaimedicine.org/journal-of-insurance-medicine/jim/2000/032-04-0266.pdf) that the victim is attempting to disguise as an accident.

Attempted suicide.

Eva Luna
12-27-2010, 10:09 AM
This happened to a college friend of mine (autoerotic asphyxia gone wrong). I didn't find out that it was accidental until his girlfriend let slip that the coroner's report had said it was accidental suicide.

Duckster
12-27-2010, 11:13 AM
That doesn't surprise me. I also wonder about that in the case of single-vehicle accidents, especially those "at night/high speed/no seat belt" ones we see every so often.

According to ER friends, many one vehicle "accidents" as you describe are successful suicides. Bridge abutments are the common stopping mechanism. A dead-on travel path into an abutment (pun intended), coupled with no seat belts and no signs of brakes being used (no skid marks) are pretty good indicators.

Wile E
12-27-2010, 11:16 AM
How about "death by misadventure"?

Sailboat
12-27-2010, 11:27 AM
How about "death by misadventure"?

That's good enough for the #2 spot in this thread! ;)

Terminus Est
12-27-2010, 11:32 AM
When someone dies while "cleaning their gun", it is almost always a suicide (http://aaimedicine.org/journal-of-insurance-medicine/jim/2000/032-04-0266.pdf) that the victim is attempting to disguise as an accident.

How does a dead person claim to be "cleaning their gun"?

Wile E
12-27-2010, 11:33 AM
That's good enough for the #2 spot in this thread! ;)

I wouldn't know.

Markxxx
12-27-2010, 11:37 AM
I would say "accidental suicide" or "unintentional suicide" or a death by a really, really, REALLY clever murderer :)

MikeS
12-27-2010, 11:40 AM
I believe that English law used to distinguish between suicide (when someone killed himself or herself) and felo-de-se (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felo_de_se), when someone killed himself or herself intentionally. But I don't know if there was a specific word for unintentional suicides under this system.

BrotherCadfael
12-27-2010, 11:49 AM
Whats it called when someone kills themselves accidentally?

FAIL.

JSexton
12-27-2010, 12:42 PM
How does a dead person claim to be "cleaning their gun"?

By staging the scene beforehand.

Either that, or the victim's family/friends found the body and attempted to make it look like not a suicide.

Turble
12-27-2010, 12:44 PM
It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that the claim that deaths by gun cleaning accidents are "almost always a suicide" was made by insurance company lawyers.

It also wouldn't surprise me if I found out that the ones which the insurance company lawyers don't suspect to be suicides are those where the dead guys policy does not have a suicide exclusion clause.

Gymnopithys
12-27-2010, 12:54 PM
An auto accident :)

rhubarbarin
12-27-2010, 01:00 PM
Fatal accident.

Jackmannii
12-27-2010, 01:42 PM
It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that the claim that deaths by gun cleaning accidents are "almost always a suicide" was made by insurance company lawyers.Actually, profound skepticism about "gun cleaning accidents" is a staple among forensic pathologists who are familiar with such deaths and have no connection to insurance companies. This is because they've investigated numerous cases and found indications of staging (see second link below for an example of how one may conclude staging occurred) and victim backgrounds that strongly suggest the likelihood of suicide.

This link (http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1646955/pdf/amjph00255-0111a.pdf) from the American Journal of Public Health references a paper published in a forensic journal by a distinguished forensic pathologist (Vincent DiMaio) who is quoted as saying that all of the cases he looked into were eventually concluded to represent suicides.

In cases like these, there is often considerable pressure on the medical examiner to rule the case a suicide, both to protect the "good name" of the deceased and for insurance settlement reasons.

A couple of other factors to consider in "gun cleaning" deaths: anti-gun groups have cited such cases as allegedly showing the dangers of gun ownership, and staged gun cleaning shooting incidents don't just include suicides (here's an example of one thought to be a disguised homicide (http://evidencemagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=365)).

Leo Bloom
12-27-2010, 04:17 PM
I believe that English law used to distinguish between suicide (when someone killed himself or herself) and felo-de-se (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felo_de_se), when someone killed himself or herself intentionally. But I don't know if there was a specific word for unintentional suicides under this system.

The witty banter between the two gravediggers/clowns in Hamlet as Ophelia's coertege approaches is a riff on when and how the concept should be applied.

GiantRat
12-27-2010, 08:04 PM
In cases like these, there is often considerable pressure on the medical examiner to rule the case a suicide, both to protect the "good name" of the deceased and for insurance settlement reasons.


(heavily snipped)

I find it hard to believe that anyone would find intentional suicide to be protecting the good name of the victim/perpetrator, as opposed to a "whoopsies" whilst cleaning his weapon. Accidents happen to everyone, and suicide isn't generally considered admirable (at least in most Western cultures) unless someone has done something horribly egregious and agrees with the popular consensus that they don't deserve life.

Just a thought.

Jackmannii
12-27-2010, 08:55 PM
(heavily snipped)

I find it hard to believe that anyone would find intentional suicide to be protecting the good name of the victim/perpetrator, as opposed to a "whoopsies" whilst cleaning his weapon. Accidents happen to everyone, and suicide isn't generally considered admirable (at least in most Western cultures) unless someone has done something horribly egregious and agrees with the popular consensus that they don't deserve life.I left out a word. What I meant to say was "there is often considerable pressure on the medical examiner not to rule the case a suicide".

The Second Stone
12-27-2010, 09:52 PM
I'm unimpressed with claims by insurance company doctors and lawyers that all gun cleaning incidents are intentional suicides. While it certainly does happen from time to time, we can never really know what the intentions of a dead person were in the absence of a communication.

Jackmannii
12-28-2010, 09:03 AM
I'm unimpressed with claims by insurance company doctors and lawyers that all gun cleaning incidents are intentional suicides.Your skepticism would have more foundation if it was only these folks making the argument - but as noted it's the conclusion of experienced forensic pathologists with no connection to insurance companies that these cases overwhelmingly represent suicide.

See post #20.

Carol the Impaler
12-28-2010, 10:16 AM
I didn't realize my "new" migraine med was a barbituate (boring story, but I'd assumed it was like ergotamine). The first time I took it, I considered taking a Vicodin and an Advil just in case it didn't really work. (My doctor had previously ok'd taking Vicodin and Advil for my migraines.) And I woulda', too, if I hadn't passed out from the barbituate first!

Not sure if that would've been enough to kill me, but that's about as close to accidental death as I wish to come. :eek:

CookingWithGas
12-28-2010, 10:31 AM
I didn't realize my "new" migraine med was a barbituate...Notwithstanding the old chestnut of a joke, it's barbiturate.

Carol the Impaler
12-28-2010, 10:37 AM
Oh. I was high when I typed that.

SmithCommaJohn
12-28-2010, 11:23 AM
How does a dead person claim to be "cleaning their gun"?

It says so right here in this note!

Case closed.

Seriously, though, I'm sure they just leave gun-cleaning supplies lying around the scene.

digs
12-28-2010, 11:53 AM
How about "death by misadventure"?

That's good enough for the #2 spot in this thread! ;)

I wouldn't know.

John Hiatt would.

So one day he burned his pinstripe suit and his leather shoulder holster
He snapped a Polaroid and made a giant wanted poster
He took it to a print shop and ordered up a thousand flyers
Walked next door to the laundromat and blew his brains out in the drier

And the tag on his toe read: 'Death by Misadventure'

Am I the only one with this Sounds-Like-Early-Angry-Elvis-Costello song reverberating through this thread?

Finagle
12-28-2010, 11:58 AM
I'm unimpressed with claims by insurance company doctors and lawyers that all gun cleaning incidents are intentional suicides. While it certainly does happen from time to time, we can never really know what the intentions of a dead person were in the absence of a communication.

Well, you could do some statistical analysis, I guess. If it is indeed common for guns to fire accidentally while cleaning them, then fatal accidents must be only a small subset of the injuries inflicted, because there are vastly more ways for a (non-aimed, accidental) gun injury to be non-fatal. If you find a suspiciously large number of gun-cleaning accidents result in (say) fatal head wounds, you might be righteously suspicious. I am no gun expert, but I'm willing to guess that no part of the cleaning process truly requires peering down the barrel with your hand on the trigger.

Of course, this statistical analysis would face a lot of noise issues, because likely a ton of the non-fatal gun-cleaning injuries were really "I was fooling around with the gun in an unsafe fashion and it went off, so I broke out the cleaning supplies after I called 911."

Lemur866
12-28-2010, 01:15 PM
Look, the only way to "shoot yourself while cleaning your gun" is if at some point during the cleaning process you point the gun at yourself and pull the trigger. That is the only possible way it can happen. Therefore, there are two options. One, the person was so ignorant and careless of firearms safety that they accidentally pointed the gun at themselves and pulled the trigger. Or two, they deliberately pointed the gun at themselves and pulled the trigger.

There are no other options.

Sailboat
12-28-2010, 01:46 PM
Look, the only way to "shoot yourself while cleaning your gun" is if at some point during the cleaning process you point the gun at yourself and pull the trigger. That is the only possible way it can happen. Therefore, there are two options. One, the person was so ignorant and careless of firearms safety that they accidentally pointed the gun at themselves and pulled the trigger. Or two, they deliberately pointed the gun at themselves and pulled the trigger.

There are no other options.

While I am generally of the opinion that many of these "accidents" are disguised suicides, I lack your confidence that there's no possible way it can happen. There are a lot of strange accidents in the world. I knew a lady whose husband shot himself setting his gun down wrong (he lived) and I've read reports of a man shot by his Labrador retriever stepping on the firearm. There's the famous video of the cop demonstrating gun safety to a classroom who shoots himself in the leg while saying he's the only person in the room qualified to handle a gun safely. And I've personally witnessed someone demonstrating gun safety, who didn't realize the gun was pointed at me during the talk until I pointed that out, who then confidently asserted that the gun was still safe because it wasn't loaded yet, and who demonstrated this by opening the chamber...to discover a live round. People make mistakes when they get comfortable.

Lemur866
12-28-2010, 02:12 PM
They sure do make mistakes. But the mistake is mistakenly pointing the gun at someone and mistakenly pulling the trigger. The famous cop who shot himself in the foot had his loaded gun pointed at his foot, and pulled the trigger.

The guy who pointed the loaded gun at you might have negligently pointed the gun at you, but he actually pointed the gun at you. But the only way he could have shot you is if he also negligently pulled the trigger while negligently pointing the gun at you.

And if someone does that, I contend it's something different than "The gun accidentally went off and Sailboat got shot". Rather, it's "I negligently pointed the gun at Sailboat and I negligently pulled the trigger and so I shot Sailboat."

Machine Elf
12-28-2010, 02:32 PM
While I am generally of the opinion that many of these "accidents" are disguised suicides, I lack your confidence that there's no possible way it can happen. There are a lot of strange accidents in the world. I knew a lady whose husband shot himself setting his gun down wrong (he lived) and I've read reports of a man shot by his Labrador retriever stepping on the firearm. There's the famous video of the cop demonstrating gun safety to a classroom who shoots himself in the leg while saying he's the only person in the room qualified to handle a gun safely. And I've personally witnessed someone demonstrating gun safety, who didn't realize the gun was pointed at me during the talk until I pointed that out, who then confidently asserted that the gun was still safe because it wasn't loaded yet, and who demonstrated this by opening the chamber...to discover a live round. People make mistakes when they get comfortable.

While you're correct that there are a lot of strange accidents in the world, I'm with Lemur866. None of the examples you've provided is a strange accident; rather, they are all instances of negligence.

I'm not familiar with the case of the guy setting his gun down "wrong," but I'll bbet he had his finger on the trigger (and the safety off) at the time.

Hunter shot by Lab? I heard of that one. Hunter tosses gun over fence, and climbs over; dog steps on trigger, and because hunter had left safety off, the gun discharges. Not a strange accident, just negligence.

Cop shoots self in leg during firearms safety demo? He pointed the gun at his leg with his finger on the trigger and the safety off, and then (whether he meant to or not), he pulled the trigger. Not a strange accident, just negligence.

Gun pointed at you with a round in the chamber? Not strange, just negligence.

ybot
12-28-2010, 03:46 PM
Sometimes they are just accidents. Safeties fail. Some people are just careless. With older single action revolvers one is advised to carry with the hammer resting on an empty chamber or spent round. Hitting the hammer can cause an unintentional discharge...

Machine Elf
12-28-2010, 03:49 PM
Sometimes they are just accidents. Safeties fail. Some people are just careless. With older single action revolvers one is advised to carry with the hammer resting on an empty chamber or spent round. Hitting the hammer can cause an unintentional discharge...

...which is why you're never supposed to point a gun at anything you don't want to kill.

CookingWithGas
12-28-2010, 04:29 PM
Terry Kath's last words were, "Don't worry, it's not loaded (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Kath#Death)." You've got to admit there's something unhinged about pointing a gun at your temple and pulling the trigger, even if you really think it's not loaded.

Lemur866
12-28-2010, 04:38 PM
Sometimes they are just accidents. Safeties fail. Some people are just careless. With older single action revolvers one is advised to carry with the hammer resting on an empty chamber or spent round. Hitting the hammer can cause an unintentional discharge...

Right. Safeties fail. And this is why you don't point the gun at yourself, nor do you pull the trigger. Even when the safety is on. Even when you have good reason to believe the gun isn't loaded.

If you want to argue that some people are so careless that they can unintentionally shoot themselves, well, it's true. But they shoot themselves by carelessly pointing the gun at themselves and carelessly pulling the trigger.

Blaster Master
12-28-2010, 05:25 PM
I have to agree with the idea that most of the "gun cleaning" deaths are probably suicide. I can see a safety possibly failing, but even in those cases, they'd still have to negligently point the gun at themselves, which isn't necessary when cleaning, after having begun cleaning without being absolutely sure the gun is unloaded.

The number one rule of gun safety is to always treat a gun as if it's loaded, perhaps excepting cases where you've personally verified it and, as a corolary, you never point a gun at anything unless you intend to destroy it. Hell, I've handled guns plenty of times, and even when after personally inspecting and being sure it's not loaded, I still won't point the barrel at myself unless for some strange reason it's absolutely unavoidable.

Now, I can see some random idiot mishandling a gun, like maybe tossing it onto a table with the safety off and shooting themselves, but I also would tend to think that someone who cares enough to clean their gun is probably more aware of gun safety than someone who isn't. Moreover, cleaning a gun doesn't involve any rough handling, doesn't require it be pointed at you, and requires you unload it anyway or you can't clean the chamber or clip. As such, I'd expect most accidental shots from cleaning to probably be in the hands, arms, or legs, whereas, I suspect a lot of the gun cleaning deaths are probably vastly disproportionately head shots.

Besides, if you're going to kill yourself, but don't want people to know it was intentional, what other options do you have? Sure, you have the single car crash option, but not only is there a fairly high risk of it not being fatal, but you destroy a car and damage property, not to mention put others at risk. Maybe you could "accidentally" OD, but if you don't do drugs and suddenly OD on something, that would raise a lot of questsion. Guns, however, are extremely effective and are quick and probably relatively painless because of how quick they are and the gun cleaning excuse is perfect and easy to pull off... just "forget" a round in it, start cleaning it, and "accidentally" discharge it while it's a couple feet away from your head. Even if people see through it, there's still doubt because that leaves no difference between the few real accidental cases, whereas something like an intentional crash or an OD tends to leave more obvious, like the aforementioned lack of tire marks.

On that note, I wonder how effective disguising an intentional suicide as autoerotic asphyxiation would be? Assuming you're not afraid of being remembered for that and are more afraid of letting people know it was intentional, just pull your pants down, lay out some porn, and hang yourself. Any ideas on what some tell-tale signs might be, other than typical potential suicide signs? It seems relatively foolproof.


And at the OP, I'd just go with suicide, possibly with a clarification of accidental. It has gotten the conotation that it's an intentional self-inflicted death, but just how homicide doesn't necessarily mean that person was killed intentionally, neither does suicide. And while I think a term like "death by misadventure" is probably a bit more interesting, it seems to describe a subset of accidental suicides where someone was knowingly doing something with high risk and it went bad, particularly stunts. Such a term, to me, does not include suicides like falling asleep at the wheel, slamming into a telephone pole when trying to dodge a deer, since driving isn't inherently high risk, and they weren't really knowingly doing it under the assumption that they could die.

bleibtreu
12-28-2010, 05:57 PM
Right. Safeties fail. And this is why you don't point the gun at yourself, nor do you pull the trigger. <b>Even when the safety is on</b>
Just want to point out that there's a common perception that a gun, a semi-automatic handgun specifically, always has a "safety lever" which has to be manually switched into an "OK to fire" position and can be placed in a position in which it the gun can not fire.

In fact, one of the most popular manufacturer of handguns for both law enforcement and civilian use today is Glock. A Glock handgun uses three separate safety mechanisms. One of those is the "trigger safety", which is a small lever integral to the trigger itself. When the user's finger is on the trigger, it depresses that lever. As the trigger is pulled, the "striker safety" and "drop safety" are also automatically disengaged. They engage again after firing. There's no separate "on/off" safety lever. The goal of this mechanism is for the gun to only fire when the trigger is pulled. But it will also fire whenever the trigger is pulled.

So, with a Glock the safety is always "on". But if you point one, loaded, at yourself and pull the trigger, it will still always fire.

Lemur866
12-28-2010, 06:07 PM
Well, I'm certainly not a firearms expert. But I do know enough to state confidently that if a gun is not pointed at you, you cannot shoot yourself with it.

bleibtreu
12-29-2010, 01:48 AM
Well, I'm certainly not a firearms expert. But I do know enough to state confidently that if a gun is not pointed at you, you cannot shoot yourself with it.
Yep. And, of course, "pointed at you" can mean pointed at any body part at all, as football player Plaxico Burress found out when his gun, a Glock, slipped from the waistband of his sweat pants and he grabbed it in panic. In doing so he apparently gripped and, inadvertently, pulled the trigger.

Again, while some people afterward wondered why he wouldn't "have the safety on" while carrying it, it technically was on, as it always is until the trigger is pulled. But his grip on the trigger both disengaged the safety and fired a round, and he shot himself in the leg.

bleibtreu
12-29-2010, 01:50 AM
Cop shoots self in leg during firearms safety demo? He pointed the gun at his leg with his finger on the trigger and the safety off,
Just to expand on my prior point, that gun was also a Glock. There was no safety lever to turn "off".

Alessan
12-29-2010, 02:00 AM
Back to the OP: when would-be terrorists blow themselves up at home (something that happens fairly often), the Israeli media usually refers to them as "work accidents".

Lust4Life
12-29-2010, 10:37 AM
When someone dies while "cleaning their gun", it is almost always a suicide (http://aaimedicine.org/journal-of-insurance-medicine/jim/2000/032-04-0266.pdf) that the victim is attempting to disguise as an accident.

You are a sadly typical product of the cynical times we live in.

When cleaning my weapon it accidently went off and killed my ex wife,her lover, the MIL, several people I happened to owe money to, and a bloke who looked at me in a funny way.

But you should have seen the looks of disbelief I got when I explained what had happened.

Sailboat
12-29-2010, 12:22 PM
They sure do make mistakes. But the mistake is mistakenly pointing the gun at someone and mistakenly pulling the trigger.

Well, I'm not arguing that the bullet circles around and hits someone out of a direct line with the barrel. The gun must be lined up with what it hits.

And perhaps it's a quibble. But it's not always the case that the gun was intentionally or even consciously pointed at someone. Maybe it was hung on a coat hanger in a closet, and when other clothes were shifted, the gun was now pointed in an unanticipated direction, perhaps by someone who didn't even know it was there. Perhaps the gun was kept on the bedside table, and someone walking past bumped it, rotating the barrel into line with the pillows. I've seen guns in both these positions where this could have happened to them. Perhaps the gun was safely pointed downrange when the shooting started (http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=6121915&page=1), but moved due to recoil. The guy who threw his rifle over the fence didn't "point it at" anyone; it was pointed skyward. He [I]then moved into line with the barrel.

Annie-Xmas
12-29-2010, 12:31 PM
Let's all give a shooting hello to Pkaxico Burress (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaxico_Burress#Accidental_shooting)

Darth Panda
12-29-2010, 12:47 PM
I've read reports of a man shot by his Labrador...

Did the dog serve time?

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