Background: Death by hanging occurs as a result of the tightening of a cord around the neck with the effect of body weight. Although generally seen, it is not always necessary for hanging to be in a completely perpendicular position with the feet off the ground. With the exception of judicial cases, most hangings are suicides and in some cases may be the result of accident or murder.
Material and Method: In this study an evaluation was made of the autopsies of 48 cases of death by hanging in the province of Tokat, Turkey between 2009 and 2013. Through a retrospective evaluation of autopsy data, the cases were examined in respect of age, gender, location, type of hanging, instrument of hanging, fractures of the hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage and level of alcohol and other substances in the blood. In the evaluation of the data, the SPSS 11.0 software was used.
Results: The cases were 35 (73%) males and 13 (27%) females with a mean age of 34.56 years; males, mean 35.37 years and females, mean 32.38 years. Typical hanging was determined in 42 (87.5%) cases. Fracture of the hyoid bone was seen in 14 (29.2%) cases and fracture of the thyroid cartilage in 13 (27%) cases. With the exception of 2 cases, ecchymosis was found in the fracture region of all the other cases. Ethanol was determined in the blood of 8 (16.6%) cases and other substances in the blood of 2 (6.2%) cases.
Conclusions: In every case of hanging, the autopsy and toxicology and histopathology examinations made following autopsy are extremely important in respect of differential diagnosis and determining whether or not it is a case of suicide or whether the hanging occurred after death.