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Old 01-03-2013, 02:17 PM   #1
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Could this be mistaken for suicide?

In my story, I am considering a character falling over a balcony to her death as a possible method of her murder. She was pushed, but is there any possibility her death could be mistaken for a suicide? Like, would there be anything that would determine that she was, indeed pushed.
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Old 01-03-2013, 02:32 PM   #2
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Two of the threads you just started, this one included, are better suited for the Sandbox:



One or two is fine here, but if you're going to start these threads regularly, you'd be better off there.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:12 PM   #3
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It could be mistaken for suicide, but it depends on how she falls. Say a witness sees her falling and she's facing upward. Nobody launches themself off a balcony back first. The investigators would also be suspicious if she wasn't alone at the time, or if maybe neighbors heard her arguing with someone beforehand. Someone with no history of mental illness who goes flying out of a balcony would be investigated thoroughly.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:22 PM   #4
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In my story, I am considering a character falling over a balcony to her death as a possible method of her murder. She was pushed, but is there any possibility her death could be mistaken for a suicide? Like, would there be anything that would determine that she was, indeed pushed.

if she is pushed hard enough or fought there could be bruises, skin under her nails, etc. if not, people do fall to their deaths all the time. YOU control the story, so you can decide which is the case. Or even have something less definitive (girl afraid of heights, who NEVER approaches balcony railings, roller coasters, etc. found dead after fall from rooftop--why would she ever go up on a roof???) to imply she was likely murdered.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:58 PM   #5
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Is she depressed, or have any motivation to commit suicide? Would she have alcohol or drugs in her system?

There are three possibilities, not two. It could be an accidental fall.
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:13 PM   #6
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Is anything out of place in the room beyond the balcony? Is there evidence on the balcony itself of foul play, e.g. loosened screws holding the wrought iron railing in place? Does her body exhibit any wounds that may be construed as defensive? Was there evidence she grabbed something in an effort to save herself? Had she hinted to anyone that she feared for her life?
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:22 PM   #7
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If she was pushed with some force, or if there was some kind of struggle, the trajectory of her body (where she went splat below the balcony, to put it bluntly) might differ than if she jumped. But there could still be some question as to whether she swan dived or simply stepped off.

Another issue police might consider would be the state of her clothes, injuries that suggest a struggle ensued prior to the plummet, whether or not the apartment looked like it had been forcibly entered, whether neighbors heard anything etc. Also, her history of depression, drug use and mental illness might be taken into consideration (and her possible associations with anyone nefarious).

I'd say that there would at least be the possibility of suicide, since people do jump of balconies once in a while. How plausible the treatment of the different possibilities are would depend on how you framed it.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:55 AM   #8
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Sandbox is a possibility. A lot of these kinds of questions end up in Story Research, which is where I'd recommend posting if you have more questions of this sort.

Story Research sub-forum

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Old 01-04-2013, 09:35 AM   #9
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Did she leave a note?
If there were no drugs and/or alcohol in her system and the investigation, through friend/family interviews, revealed no prior history of mental illness or depression, no note would be a huge give away.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:51 AM   #10
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Watch CSI and shows like that.

Yup, it could be mistaken as a suicide.
Yup, it can be proven that she was pushed.
How?
- there could be signs of a struggle in her room to indicate a fight
- a neighbor could have heard her screaming or arguing with someone to indicate that she was not a alone during the time of the murder
- the killer could have left some hair, fingerprints, etc.

There are lots of ways, really, to prove that it was a murder. Also, even if the crime scene first looks like a suicide, there will still be an investigation to eliminate all possibilities so the detectives/police/etc. will still be able to see the evidence of murder even if it is first presumed to be a suicide.

The amount of evidence left by the killer is all up to you.

Again, watch CSI.
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:47 PM   #11
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A large part of Michael Connelly's "The Drop" concerns just this plot element. Might be worth checking out.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:34 PM   #12
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It depends - I mean, if she fought, or if she was pushed hard enough and violently enough then there's a chance that there will be bruising that will show. But realistically you could have it easily mistaken for suicide - no matter which way up she lands. People can, and do, jump in all manner of ways, it's not always just stepping off a ledge face first.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri Perkins View Post
In my story, I am considering a character falling over a balcony to her death as a possible method of her murder. She was pushed, but is there any possibility her death could be mistaken for a suicide? Like, would there be anything that would determine that she was, indeed pushed.
I mentioned this in your other thread, but it sounds like Remember Me, by Christopher Pike. I'd suggest you read that.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:26 PM   #14
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Someone else's skin under her fingernails would be a sure sign there was a struggle, if just brief one. Or torn threads, a button, or someone else's blood on her fingers where she scratched someone.

Or, if she were talking on the phone and got pushed - and the pusher didn't see the phone (she was back to, to the pusher) - then her conversation would be cut off with a little sound, a startled cry, then all over. Later the other person might tell the police how abruptly the conversation ended. The police would then think, might be accidental or might be homicide, but probably wasn't suicide.
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