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lexxi
12-03-2008, 11:00 PM
I may or may not go this route. Assuming that I do have a character attempt suicide, what would be a good method that would have the following results:

-The person survives and is able to hold a conversation a day or two later.

-It looks as though it could have been a murder attempt instead.


If it helps, the person is an electrician and carpenter working at a theatre, and it would be preferable to have him found either backstage or in the scene shop.

General Joy
12-03-2008, 11:42 PM
I was just looking at this thread today... it might help you a bit:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1750169#post1750169

I also have a suicide in my WIP, but my character does not survive it. Depending on the severity, a person who overdosed on pills (or was drugged, if you want to plant that seed of doubt) could potentially be able to hold a conversation in a day or two. So could a hanging victim or wristcutter, again, depending on the severity. I don't know how believable it would be, though, for someone to attempt to kill a person either of those two ways. Poison might also be an option.

RJK
12-04-2008, 12:25 AM
It sounds unbelievable, but I personally know two men who put a gun to their head, fired a shot and lived.
The first one aimed at his temple. the bullet went through his sinus cavities and out the other side. It cut the optic nerve in one eye and messed up his sinuses, but that's about all.
The second one put the gun behind his ear. the bullet hit the skull bone, rode it under the skin, all the way around the back of his head and came out the other side behind his left ear. Knocked him out. No permanent damage. (I used a version of this (homicide, not suicide) in one of my books).

Some people have thick skulls, and small caliber bullets don't always penetrate. However, in a skull against gun battle, I'd put my money on the gun if I were a betting man.

Chase
12-04-2008, 01:12 AM
The brother of a friend hijacked a taxi at gunpoint to take him somewhere so he could suicide. The taxi driver was able to leave his radio on and the police surrounded the cab.

The gunman put the muzzle under his chin, but pressed up too hard, tilting his head back. The large caliber bullet took off much of his upper lip and nose, but the "victim" lived.

Of course his family claimed the police did it, despite all the witnesses and evidence to the contrary.

The point is people jump to any conclusion they please, and the shooter can later say what he wants. This particular method may work for you, if you can explain the gun remaining at the scene of the crime.

willfulone
12-04-2008, 02:26 AM
He could try to hang himself from one of those rafter things that holds the lighting behind the scenes - no? There are those sand bags to counterbalance things. Well, okay that is the way they show it in movies. But, people WILL use the images they know from TV to imagine. Say he did not have enough sandbags to counter his weight. When he jumps or slides off to hang himself, he passes out from lack of O2, but the bags are not enough weight to hold him. Thus, he plummets to ground - thereby knocking himself out for a longer time due to concussion.

Someone comes in next AM finds him - assumes someone tried to kill him - maybe because the bags fell too? And, the story is set - he goes along so no one knows?

I don't know how violent you wish it. But, if I read that there, I would see it and possibly believe it.

Good luck - whatever you decide!

Christine

MissKris
12-04-2008, 02:41 AM
If he's an electrician he could rig up some way of getting electrocuted. Sometimes electrocution kills, sometimes it doesn't. I'm sure there are all kinds of ways to set up a scene at a theatre wherein there are loads of electrical wires/applicances/etc. And who's to say that someone didn't come up behind him and apply a cut, live wire to the guys back or something?

I'm not an electrical engineer or anything, so I hope I'm not way off on this. :)

lexxi
12-04-2008, 02:46 AM
He could try to hang himself from one of those rafter things that holds the lighting behind the scenes - no? There are those sand bags to counterbalance things. Well, okay that is the way they show it in movies. But, people WILL use the images they know from TV to imagine. Say he did not have enough sandbags to counter his weight. When he jumps or slides off to hang himself, he passes out from lack of O2, but the bags are not enough weight to hold him. Thus, he plummets to ground - thereby knocking himself out for a longer time due to concussion.

Yeah, something like this would probably work best.

If he stops to think about the counterweighting, he'd get it right, since that's part of his job and he does it right for flying the battens, etc. But if he's not thinking clearly, he might use the same rigging that he set up to "hang" a dummy in the show, and of course he weighs more than a stuffed dummy even if it's bigger than him.

What I was mainly concerned about was that if he jumps from the catwalk he would break his neck and succeed in killing himself. Unless he got the knot in the wrong place. (I can't have him use a chair or a ladder, because then it would still be there and it would obviously be a suicide.) But if he's relying on counterweights to suspend him, as you suggest, if they don't hold him up he would just fall all the way to the ground. So, yeah, thanks.

He doesn't have a gun, or the whole story would develop differently.

Don Allen
12-04-2008, 03:26 AM
Even the smallest scent of a cooked turkey will send me over the edge.

willfulone
12-04-2008, 03:28 AM
He does not have to jump from catwalk. He could sit on catwalk and ponder a bit his actions. Then slid off slowly or grap hold in despiration if he starts to slide off but changes mind. OR he jumps and grabs rope to slow is descent for he changes mind. Then rope burns on hands (which actually lends itself to him fighting to save his life and gives the murder plot point some weight) cause him to let go after he slowed. He does not "snap" the ropes at all.

I mean - just saying...

Not sure it could work, but ...

JoNightshade
12-04-2008, 04:25 AM
It sounds unbelievable, but I personally know two men who put a gun to their head, fired a shot and lived.
The first one aimed at his temple. the bullet went through his sinus cavities and out the other side. It cut the optic nerve in one eye and messed up his sinuses, but that's about all.
The second one put the gun behind his ear. the bullet hit the skull bone, rode it under the skin, all the way around the back of his head and came out the other side behind his left ear. Knocked him out. No permanent damage. (I used a version of this (homicide, not suicide) in one of my books).

Actually this is not unbelievable at all - I've heard it's quite common. If you REALLY wish to kill yourself or a character, shoot directly into the eye socket. Any other way and you're just asking to be permanently maimed.

As for the OP, I vote for OD/poison. He could even have poisoned his own drink or food - say only a few people know he doesn't like to take pills. It's easy to make a dosage mistake or vomit it all up before it becomes lethal.

If you want him to be kind of dumb you might consider a nail gun. Definitely survivable even if it's in the brain. That's the only thing I can think of in the scene shop. :)

Rabe
12-04-2008, 06:07 AM
What I was mainly concerned about was that if he jumps from the catwalk he would break his neck and succeed in killing himself. Unless he got the knot in the wrong place. (I can't have him use a chair or a ladder, because then it would still be there and it would obviously be a suicide.) But if he's relying on counterweights to suspend him, as you suggest, if they don't hold him up he would just fall all the way to the ground. So, yeah, thanks.


What about the tightening of the knot?

When he goes off the catwalk, even slowly, the weight of the counterbalance will pull against the rope in the knot causing it to tighten around his neck. So he falls, but he still has to deal with the tight rope strangulating him. Which would then make him have to actually loosen the knot in order to survive. So neither suicide nor homicide would occur here.

But the problem is that most forms of suicide are distinguishable from murder due to forensic evidence. Most times easily distinguishable.

You're best bet, if you want to make the death appear suspicious is not to have a readily identifiable means of death at hand. So the hanging, shooting, ODing and such are pretty much out. But a dead body lying backstage in a man not known to have medical conditions would then be treated as 'suspicious' and would be investigated as such until a determinate of death is discovered.

Rabe...

lexxi
12-04-2008, 06:27 AM
You're best bet, if you want to make the death appear suspicious is not to have a readily identifiable means of death at hand. So the hanging, shooting, ODing and such are pretty much out. But a dead body lying backstage in a man not known to have medical conditions would then be treated as 'suspicious' and would be investigated as such until a determinate of death is discovered.

So what might such a not-readily-identifiable means of death be?

As for the forensic evidence, if it's not immediately obvious that wouldn't be a problem for my story, since we're following it through a curious coworker who wouldn't know everything the police know.

BarbaraKE
12-04-2008, 07:05 AM
Have him cut his throat.

Believe it or not, many people who attempt suicide this way survive. The tendency is to tilt the head back but that pushes the windpipe forward while the carotid arteries are protected by major tendons. They just end up cutting their windpipe.

It would be bloody and the victim would not be able to talk when found. (This may or may not work for your situation.) But it could very well look like a murder attempt.

Once his windpipe is repaired, he'd be able to talk (or maybe just whisper?) The repair itself is usually straightforward.

Rabe
12-05-2008, 05:48 AM
So what might such a not-readily-identifiable means of death be?

As for the forensic evidence, if it's not immediately obvious that wouldn't be a problem for my story, since we're following it through a curious coworker who wouldn't know everything the police know.

This answer may sound flippant, but not meant to be. A not readily identifiable death would be any death that doesn't seem to have a readily identifiable cause. Hanging - that would be a readily identifiable cause of death (the strangulation/broken neck/etc common with such things). This would give the police (or more correctly the detectives) something to focus on and that would wind up either being ruled homicide or suicide very quickly.

But, if your character goes backstage, finds the dead guy lying there and rushes to his aid...only to find the face purpling and the skin cold to the touch and realizes that THIS GUY IS JUST DEAD! No hanging, no serious wounds, etc. Then that causes it to become a longer investigation while they determine the cause of death and then begin to look for the explanations for it.

Some examples of what could have been like this is: he's taking a medication that could have a toxic buildup in the body such as lithium or warbutrin. During the autopsy the toxicology reports come back that there lethal levels of this medication in the person's system and that is most likely the contributing factor for death. So, the police go to investigate and someone remembers that they did see a prescription bottle of the medication (for example: warbutrin) in the area where the guy was found. They investigate and they determine that either the prescription as filled awhile ago and yet the prescribed amount is still mainly full. Or that the prescription is relatively recent but the bottle is empty.

Which could lead to the idea of suicide, except someone else had mentioned how lethal a build up fo this drug could be to the character. Someone who didn't like the character and is just shady enough that others may believe he would kill someone. Or they find traces of the drug in the guys lunch or drink. Which looks suspicious. (only to find out that maybe the character had problems swallowing pills so he would crush them up and put them in his food.)


Have him cut his throat.

Believe it or not, many people who attempt suicide this way survive. The tendency is to tilt the head back but that pushes the windpipe forward while the carotid arteries are protected by major tendons. They just end up cutting their windpipe.

It would be bloody and the victim would not be able to talk when found. (This may or may not work for your situation.) But it could very well look like a murder attempt.

Once his windpipe is repaired, he'd be able to talk (or maybe just whisper?) The repair itself is usually straightforward.

Yes, but in this instance the doctor would give the medical opinion that this was a self inflicted wound. The angles, force and other indicia from the wound would be readily apparent that this was self-inflicted and not inflicted.

Rabe...

Cyia
12-05-2008, 06:04 AM
When I was in high school, there was an incident during a play where one of the performers accidentally mixed chlorine and ammonium on stage during the performance. (they didn't know they weren't supposed to use real chemicals.). This produced something like Cyanide gas (not sure what the actual result was, but Cyanide is what we were told).

The drama teacher noticed what was happening and intervened before anyone was seriously injured. (She threw a blanket from the set over the bucket and pushed it outside)

The point is that someone could easily mix backstage cleaning agents and it would look like an unexplained death - especially if he knocked over whatever they were mixed in and the liquid evaporated. He'd have residue in his lungs that would lead to suspicion of murder.

Monkey
12-05-2008, 07:21 AM
A friend of mine was found hanged. His hands were bound tightly behind his back, so everyone who knew him assumed he'd been killed, but the cops ended up ruling it a suicide.

Later, it was explained that some people try multiple times to hang themselves, but don't really understand the whole "it's the drop that breaks the neck" thing. When they try the chair method or something similar (but don't have that crucial drop) and start slowly asphyxiating, instinct kicks in and they free themselves. If they are still serious about suicide by hanging, they will sometimes devise a way to bind themselves so that they can't stop the asphyxiation.

That, it is said, is what happened to my friend.

But I still wonder.

At any rate, your character could be discovered hanging and losing conciousness, struggling against the binding that's holding his hands behind his back...and it could still be a suicide attempt gone wrong.

BarbaraKE
12-05-2008, 04:47 PM
Yes, but in this instance the doctor would give the medical opinion that this was a self inflicted wound. The angles, force and other indicia from the wound would be readily apparent that this was self-inflicted and not inflicted.

Rabe...

Sure, the doctor/coroner could tell it was self-inflicted - but that's not the point.

The original poster was looking for two things


-The person survives and is able to hold a conversation a day or two later.

-It looks as though it could have been a murder attempt instead.


The initial thought anyone would have after finding a person lying in a pool of blood is that this person was attacked.

Whatever the person does, it's not 'murder' (or 'suicide') since they survive.

Rabe
12-05-2008, 07:42 PM
The initial thought anyone would have after finding a person lying in a pool of blood is that this person was attacked.

Whatever the person does, it's not 'murder' (or 'suicide') since they survive.

Yes, someone might believe that he had been attacked. And when the police/ambulance were called then a police officer would be at the hospital waiting to speak to the doctor about what was going on (most likely even in the ER while they're doing the prelim). The doctor would say "Well, no, this *isn't* homicide but self-inflicted".

And then the cop tells the detectives at the scene "Hey, guys! Not murder, suicide attempt!" So that pretty much wraps up the case.

So what the poster wanted doesn't pass the plausibility test.

Rabe...

Rabe
12-05-2008, 07:57 PM
Lexxi...

Just on the off chance you didn't notice it, I sent you a PM with a possible solution to the quandry you have posted here.

And if that doesn't work, you might consider watching "The Life of David Gale" an excellent movie starring Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet. The gist is that David Gale is an anti-death penalty advocate who is put on death row after being convicted of killing someone in a heinous, torturous hanging death. Y'know, you probably should watch it just because it is so excellent.

Rabe...