Thread Tools
Old 09-10-2007, 12:08 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
Did suicide by cutting your throat with a straight razor used to be common?

Not to spoil anything, although it's hardly a spoiler as it's actually depicted on the cover of my edition and happens in the first 50 pages or so, I just finished a mystery written in the 1932 (contemporary at the time) where a young man is found with his throat cut and a straight razor nearby and everybody assumes he killed himself.

The hell? If I came across a body with a cut throat, the last thing I'd assume was that it was suicide. Wrists, sure. But cutting your own throat? I mean, seriously? (It was mentioned at the inquest that such suicides often took poison as a belt-and-suspenders measure in such cases, but still.)

It isn't like the author to wave her hands and make statements like that that just don't make sense. She had most people, including the papers, just assuming it was a suicide as if such things happened every day in 1932, and it was even supposed to be obvious that that was part of the murderer's plan. So, is that just a suicide method that's gone out of style with wider adoption of the safety razor?
Old 09-10-2007, 02:53 AM
Charter Member
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Maine
Posts: 10,206
Couldn't find anything definitive, but I did find a list of baseball suicides. If I counted right, there are 5 suicides by cutting the neck, 3 by cutting the wrists, and 1 by cutting the femoral artery. There's not enough data here to say for sure, but it seems to me wrist-slitting has become more popular with time. Neck-slitting didn't fall out of favor completely; the most recent cutting suicide listed (1966) was a neck-slitting.
Old 09-10-2007, 02:55 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,833
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
Not to spoil anything, (snip) So, is that just a suicide method that's gone out of style with wider adoption of the safety razor?
What's the name of the book and author? Hard to spoil if we don't know what you're referring to.

And yep, the easy access to straight razors boosted the number of suicides by this method. We don't often hear of murder by arsenic these days, because it is simply harder to get one's murdering mitts on.
Old 09-10-2007, 07:53 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Belfast, Ireland.
Posts: 6,380
It's quicker and more effective than slitting your wrists. If you're really sure you want to die, it's a damn effective way of doing it. You'll be unconscious in less than 60 seconds and dead in less than 5 minutes, quicker if you get both carotids and both jugulars.

If you're suicidal and shaving everyday with a straight razor, it wouldn' t take long for the idea to pop into your head.
Old 09-10-2007, 08:29 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,928
Quote:
Originally Posted by irishgirl
If you're suicidal and shaving everyday with a straight razor, it wouldn' t take long for the idea to pop into your head.
Go to work or cut my throat? Go to work or cut my throat?....
Old 09-10-2007, 09:51 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
Quote:
Originally Posted by maggenpye
What's the name of the book and author? Hard to spoil if we don't know what you're referring to.

And yep, the easy access to straight razors boosted the number of suicides by this method. We don't often hear of murder by arsenic these days, because it is simply harder to get one's murdering mitts on.
Well, that's rather the point, isn't it? I don't want to be the one to have somebody come in here screaming at me that they don't care that it's on the cover and less than 50 pages in, they don't care for spoilers, and blah, blah, blah. Also, it isn't important. It's
SPOILER:
Dorothy Sayers' To Have His Carcase. It was, no surprise, not a suicide.


There aren't as many straight razors around, but there certainly are still sharp implements. How many suicides where the wrists are cut are still done by razor blade as opposed to, say, a kitchen knife or a box cutter or something? Is a razor blade "traditional" even though it would be really going out of your way to find one? (What, painting supplies? I don't think you can still buy a box in the razor aisle, can you? Do they still even sell the kind of razor that takes individual steel blades of that kind?)

ETA: The surprising thing to me is that the weapon was chosen partly because it would be taken as the weapon of a suicide. To me and I suspect most modern viewers it suggests some sort of particularly snappily dressed gang leader's personal weapon. When people still often shaved with straight razors, were they not used as handy weapons by the criminal set? I'm reminded of the expression "Chelsea smile", which is to cut somebody from mouth to ear - to when do these forms of razored ritual mutilation date? (Isn't there also a "something necktie" where they cut your throat and put your tongue through it?)

Last edited by Zsofia; 09-10-2007 at 09:55 AM.
Old 09-10-2007, 10:00 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Northumbria
Posts: 2,655
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
The hell? If I came across a body with a cut throat, the last thing I'd assume was that it was suicide. Wrists, sure. But cutting your own throat? I mean, seriously? (It was mentioned at the inquest that such suicides often took poison as a belt-and-suspenders measure in such cases, but still.)

It isn't like the author to wave her hands and make statements like that that just don't make sense. She had most people, including the papers, just assuming it was a suicide as if such things happened every day in 1932, and it was even supposed to be obvious that that was part of the murderer's plan. So, is that just a suicide method that's gone out of style with wider adoption of the safety razor?
My first reaction here was surprise that you hadn't come across this before. I've no data on how common suicidal throat-cutting actually was in reality, but it was clearly not that unusual, and certainly one of the more commonly portrayed methods in fiction at the time.

So yes, someone in 1932, finding a body alone in a room with a cut throat, would think "probable suicide" in the same way you would if you found a body next to an empty bottle of pills, or sitting in a car in a fume-filled garage.

From what I read, it's usually relatively easy to differentiate between a homicidal and suicidal throat cutting, but I assume the book's murderer used the afore-mentioned poisoning to disguise the signs?
Old 09-10-2007, 10:09 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
WhyNot, really the only precautions the killer took to make it look like suicide was
SPOILER:
He cut from behind the victim, and while it came out at the inquest that there were no "false starts" and the cut was very clean, that was not unheard of and "suicides are notoriously queer". The problem was, how did they get down to the beach without leaving footprints, how did they do it and not have the heroine see them when she discovered the body with the blood still wet and dripping, and if the people who we think did it didn't do it, why do they have such precise, cast-iron alibis? Also, will Harriet ever realize how much Lord Peter really truly loves her and stop being so mean to him? The agony! (Except I already read Gaudy Night, so I know how that turns out.)
Old 09-10-2007, 10:20 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Northumbria
Posts: 2,655
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
WhyNot, really the only precautions the killer took to make it look like suicide was
SPOILER:
He cut from behind the victim, and while it came out at the inquest that there were no "false starts" and the cut was very clean, that was not unheard of and "suicides are notoriously queer". The problem was, how did they get down to the beach without leaving footprints, how did they do it and not have the heroine see them when she discovered the body with the blood still wet and dripping, and if the people who we think did it didn't do it, why do they have such precise, cast-iron alibis? Also, will Harriet ever realize how much Lord Peter really truly loves her and stop being so mean to him? The agony! (Except I already read Gaudy Night, so I know how that turns out.)
You know, I could have sworn I read all those books, but I don't remember this at all. Something to look out for on my next trip the library.

Oh, and WhyNot's the one without the beard.
Old 09-10-2007, 10:30 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
Quote:
Originally Posted by WotNot
You know, I could have sworn I read all those books, but I don't remember this at all. Something to look out for on my next trip the library.

Oh, and WhyNot's the one without the beard.
Whoops! (There's a beard in the book, too.) I'm glad I didn't give out the secret twist, then - I didn't see it coming at all, and it was totally fairly played, gave you all the hints you needed and then some. It's a little embarassing - I'm usually "less romance, more mystery!" but in the Wimsey books I always want them to stop gallivanting about the countryside and give us another scene with Peter and Harriet!
Old 09-10-2007, 10:33 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 7,313
I don't know if there are statistics that would show how methods may have changed in popularity over the years, but Vince Welnick, the last keyboard player for the Grateful Dead, killed himself by cutting his own throat and that was within the past several years. Seems a particularly painful way to go about it, but he was suffering from extreme depression.
Old 09-10-2007, 10:38 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 45,167
The first thought I had was SNL's Charles Rocket
Old 09-10-2007, 11:53 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
I just can't imagine people taking that way out, I guess. (And no, oddly enough I hadn't really encountered it before.) Running the car in the garage you go to sleep. A gun in the mouth is one split-second decision, ditto jumping off a high place (although there's room for regret in that one after you decide!), poison is seen as being gentle, people say cutting your wrists in hot water doesn't hurt much, etc. Cutting your own throat, though? Very messy, takes a ton of nerve, easy to screw up, what do you do if you don't get it right the first time... I'm just surprised somebody would do that instead of the alternatives.
Old 09-10-2007, 12:10 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 45,167
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
I just can't imagine people taking that way out, I guess. (And no, oddly enough I hadn't really encountered it before.) Running the car in the garage you go to sleep. A gun in the mouth is one split-second decision, ditto jumping off a high place (although there's room for regret in that one after you decide!), poison is seen as being gentle, people say cutting your wrists in hot water doesn't hurt much, etc. Cutting your own throat, though? Very messy, takes a ton of nerve, easy to screw up, what do you do if you don't get it right the first time... I'm just surprised somebody would do that instead of the alternatives.
Which brings to mind one of my favorite poems, Dorothy Parker's Resume

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
Old 09-10-2007, 05:45 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,833
Zsofia
Quote:
There aren't as many straight razors around, but there certainly are still sharp implements. How many suicides where the wrists are cut are still done by razor blade as opposed to, say, a kitchen knife or a box cutter or something? Is a razor blade "traditional" even though it would be really going out of your way to find one? (What, painting supplies? I don't think you can still buy a box in the razor aisle, can you? Do they still even sell the kind of razor that takes individual steel blades of that kind?)
I knew someone who attempted to slash his wrists, he used the nearest knife to hand (heh). During a period of depression, I used to picture myself riding my motorbike off the road (never did it, got over myself instead). Another person I know just swallowed a months supply if the sleeping pills she'd been prescribed. It depends what you're used to - suicide by cop is common in some circles, but not something that I'd consider (or know how to engineer).

When straight razors were common, that was something a man had in his hand every day, at his throat every day. Accidental nicks would show him how very easy and relatively painless it could be.

I'm not a suicidal 1930's male, but that seems to fit occam's razor (heh)

Knives are more likely to accidently cut hands / wrists, making the wrist slashing image more likely to occur to the potential suicide.
Old 09-10-2007, 07:35 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Georgia
Posts: 493
It might be logical to assume that the further one goes back, the more agrarian and rural the society. One who is suicidal may well be intimately familiar with how livestock are properly bled after killing. The obvious conclusion is that one might off oneself more certainly, quicker and with less suffering. Of course this is only speculation but the preference for a razor to the throat is certainly supported by old press clippings and newspapers that I have read.
Old 09-11-2007, 10:00 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Belfast, Ireland.
Posts: 6,380
urgh...

I've spent too much time stitching up people who tried to kill themselves and then changed their minds, and trying to work out what drugs exactly someone has overdosed on.

Impulsive (usually drunken) suicide attempts: usually will involve whatever is most convenient, be that a kitchen knife, some broken glass or a pen-knife.

Planned suicide attempts: Usually chose the blade carefully, sharpen it, and if the idea of a razor blade appeals, they'll have bought one specially.

Thus, the planned wounds are often cleaner and easier to stitch, but that person is less likely to be alive to stitch up in the first place.

Likewise overdoses.
Planned: Usually stockpile lots and lots of the same drug (which sometimes has an antidote).

Impulsive: Take everything in the medicine cabinet, which, depending on what medications happen to be there. This can make their symptoms varied, treatment difficult and long-lasting effects unpredictable.

I'd rather treat someone who took 100 paracetamol (acetominophen) and really wanted to die, than someone who got drunk and high and ate everything they could find in the medicine chest because they thought dying might be quite a good idea at the time.
Old 09-11-2007, 11:10 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 15,368
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas
Which brings to mind one of my favorite poems, Dorothy Parker's Resume
Off-topic, but thank you! I've been looking for this poem for years! I came across it in high school, but by the time I wanted to locate it again I'd completely forgotten the names of the poem and poet and my searching skills weren't up to the task. Love the Dope.
Old 09-11-2007, 04:12 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Reading, UK
Posts: 3,283
Robert FitzRoy (the captain of HMS Beagle, friend and later opponent of Charles Darwin) famously committed suicide by cutting his own throat with a razor in 1865. (Curiously enough, I find, he was a nephew of Lord Castlereagh, who also died by cutting his own throat, though Castlereagh used a letter opener).

Major General Orde Wingate, of Chindits fame, unsuccessfully attempted suicide by similar methods in 1941.

These were just two famous examples that sprang to my mind immediately ... why do you think they're called "cut-throat" razors?
Old 09-11-2007, 04:56 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: My Own Private Iowa
Posts: 15,380
Could this be a particularly British way of offing oneself?
Old 09-11-2007, 04:58 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,833
Or a particularly British male way?
Old 09-11-2007, 05:06 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Wright
Robert FitzRoy (the captain of HMS Beagle, friend and later opponent of Charles Darwin) famously committed suicide by cutting his own throat with a razor in 1865. (Curiously enough, I find, he was a nephew of Lord Castlereagh, who also died by cutting his own throat, though Castlereagh used a letter opener).

Major General Orde Wingate, of Chindits fame, unsuccessfully attempted suicide by similar methods in 1941.

These were just two famous examples that sprang to my mind immediately ... why do you think they're called "cut-throat" razors?
Prolly 'cause the people making safety razors called them that, like how Edison tried to move the term "Westinghoused" for "electrocuted" into common parlance? (Wild guess, I really don't know how old the term is.)
Old 09-11-2007, 07:28 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 123
Cutting the neck is common on small farms to kill goats, lambs, etc., so in those days it would easily come to mind.
Old 09-11-2007, 08:09 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 5,889
I have a couple of old straight razors. A well stroped * strait razor is wicked sharp. In use, they are used in a scraping maner. Any sort of slicing motion will result in a deep cut. Slitting your throat with one would be a matter of one quick motion with very little force required. Not that I'd do either, but I can see it as being easier than slitting my wrists.


*Straight razors were kept sharp by frequent honing on a leather strap (strop) impregnated with very fine abrasive. They were hollow ground (concave) with a very thick spine (the side of the blade opposite the cutting edge) this served to establish the angle of the cutting edge against the strop, so attaining a perfect edge was more or less automatic...though not quite as easy as old time barbers made it look.

Last edited by Kevbo; 09-11-2007 at 08:10 PM.
Old 09-11-2007, 08:30 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: My Own Private Iowa
Posts: 15,380
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
Prolly 'cause the people making safety razors called them that, like how Edison tried to move the term "Westinghoused" for "electrocuted" into common parlance? (Wild guess, I really don't know how old the term is.)
Really wild guess, actually. Kinda implies the straight razor was invented by, I dunno, Thomas Cutthroat.
Old 09-11-2007, 10:42 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,113
Quote:
Originally Posted by irishgirl
I'd rather treat someone who took 100 paracetamol (acetominophen) and really wanted to die, than someone who got drunk and high and ate everything they could find in the medicine chest because they thought dying might be quite a good idea at the time.
I thought that overdoses of acetaminophen (Tylenol) was a particularly bad choice for potential suicides and people making suicidal gestures because of the resultant liver damage if not promptly treated.

i.e. "We pumped your stomach and you're going to live. Except your liver is shot and you need a liver transplant."

The problem is that Tylenol has a reputation for being relatively innocuous and "safe", so it's a common choice for overdosing by teens making suicidal gestures. However, in high doses it can cause irreversible liver damage.

Cite.
Old 09-12-2007, 12:42 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Reading, UK
Posts: 3,283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beware of Doug
Could this be a particularly British way of offing oneself?
I dunno. I think it's more likely that I know British history better than, say, American, so when I think of historical personages who've carved themselves up in this particular manner, I'm probably going to come up with British examples.
Old 09-21-2007, 03:32 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Belfast Northern Ireland
Posts: 6,591
Too late to bump? If anyone wants a recent cite here's one courtesy of the Beeb.
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:46 PM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: propane tank generator opening a brothel transporting a freezer bo dietl goodfellas crackers for soup damen street dead termites french tickler condoms mulders dad soul patches edna cintron jumped ups loading trucks insurance questionnaire horned animal 32 cent stamps trump agenda survey vaseline on sunburn ksi unit will shortz email maru ship challah history the simpsons dope michelle rodriguez sucks anal birth baker's ammonia walmart like th transmission smoking top braces first japanese rank expelled iud symptoms pvc joint leak tick medicine for humans does unplugging a tv damage it can you get sick from a tetanus shot how big is 760 square feet i forgot my age printer in an error state windows 10 font that looks like computer text does rid-x really work 2001 pt cruiser gas mileage gigablast commercial boy or girl hit it out of the park watch curb your enthusiasm hulu all of mexico movement all x are y relocating chipmunks how far halls ginger ale cough drops can a chicken lay 2 eggs a day how to euthanize a hamster ford focus spare key i hate to dance is mongoose a good bike life in the early 2000s dispose of old gasoline get taste back when sick how to tell when limes are ripe birds on a wire meaning 7 for all mankind mens jeans reviews door knob lock stuck in locked position david thewlis kingdom of heaven can cell phone companies see internet history tip mattress delivery guy