Expert paper analyses ‘uncommon’ cut-throat suicide

The police are insisting that all evidence so far indicates that the wounds suffered by Melvin Theuma are self-inflicted. If this is so, academic studies find that it is very rare that suicides are committed in this way. In the meantime, Dr Jason Azzopardi lawyer for the Caruana Galizia family in a post on facebook said that the wounds resemble those suffered by “pentiti”.

“Suicide by cutting or stabbing is an uncommon method of suicide and in such cases, the main issue is the differentiation between homicide and suicide”. This was one of the conclusions published by experts in the ‘Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine’ in 2009. The article entitled “Atypical suicide” cut-throat injury – A case report ‘ analyzes the issue of suicide by cutting one’s throat.

The authors note that this is a rare form of suicide attempt and, similar to other methods where blades are used, tentative cuts are also normally present. “The direction of the self-inflicted incised wounds, their depth, size and number, presence of tentative cuts, tailing of the wound have particular importance in helping to recognise a suicidal cut-throat” say the authors. They add that such wounds are characterised by ” many scores of trial cuts called hesitation cuts”.

The Commissioner of Police Angelo Gafá, in a crime conference on Wednesday morning, said that Melvin Theuma had sustained a very serious wound to his throat, several stab wounds in his chest and abdomen on the right-hand side and centrally, one of which was quite deep and wounds on his left wrist. Commissioner Gafá said that there was no sign of defensive wounds and the blood spattering did not indicate a struggle. Police Inspector Keith Arnaud, also chief inspector on the case of the Caruana Galizia murder said that Theuma indicated that the wounds were self-inflicted.

The learned article says that “Absence of hesitation cuts in a suicidal cut-throat…to our knowledge has not been reported in literature before” but the authors caution that other evidence can be brought into play to distinguish between attempted homicide and attempted suicide.