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Russia. This individual committed suicide by intraoral shotgun wound. In the head, neck, and limbs, shotgun exit wounds can be ragged and very large, with extensive tissue damage. In a suicide where the gun has been placed in the mouth, there will be significant disruption of the head, and brain may be expelled, the so-called “burst head” effect.

Fig.1 Facial injury with cranial rupture caused by shotgun blast.

Fig.2 Exit with cranial rupture.

The head is the most common location for a suicidal shotgun wound (74%), followed by the chest (20%) and then the abdomen (6%). In head wounds, the most common location was intraoral (50%), followed by under the chin (19%); side of head, including parietal and temporal wounds (15%); and the face, including the forehead (13%).

Fig.3 Maxillary fractures caused by shotgun blast suicide with entrance via the oral cavity.

Shotguns differ from rifles and handguns in construction, ammunition, ballistics, and use. Rifles and handguns fire a single projectile down a rifled barrel. Shotguns have a smooth bore. Although they can fire a single projectile, they are usually employed to fire multiple pellets. Rifled shotgun barrels, intended for use with slugs, are available. Shotguns may be autoloaders, pump (slide action), over/under, side-by-side, bolt action, or single shot. Some shotguns usually intended for military and/or police use convert from semiautomatic to pump action and back as the user desires.

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