Female suicides in Berlin with the use of firearms

A. Schmeling, H. Strauch, M. A. Rothschild

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25 Scopus citations


The Statistical Office of Berlin recorded a total of 5488 suicides within the 10-year period 1990-1999 (3550 males, 1938 females). Firearms were used in 238 cases (218 males, 20 females). An autopsy was performed in 19 of the 20 female cases. The women's ages ranged from 21 to 88 years. Their marital status was single (n=6), married (n=5), divorced (n=5) and widowed (n=3). Eight of the women had one or more children. A suicide note was found in eight cases; six women had a history of psychiatric illness, and six had previously attempted suicide. Predominant among the suicide motives were mental (n=5) and organic (n=4) disorders as well as relationship problems (n=3) and financial difficulties (n=2). Most of the women (n=16) committed suicide in their own apartment, mainly in the bedroom. The weapons used were pistol (n=10), revolver (n=6), rifle (n=2) and a blank cartridge gun (n=1). In 16 cases we found a contact discharge at point blank range. Six of the dead women were found with the weapon still in their hands. The site of bullet-entry was the right temple (n=11), high-parietal (n=2), mouth (n=3), neck (n=1), and chest (n=2). A comparison of our results with the data of other authors for male or predominantly male collectives did not indicate any sex-specific differences regarding the type of weapon, location of the entry wound or the scene. However, alcohol was detected at a lower frequency compared with male gunshot suicides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-181
Number of pages4
JournalForensic Science International
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 27 Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Female suicide
  • Gunshot wounds to the head
  • Suicide by firearms


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