Unnatural deaths in women of reproductive age (range 12-49 years) have a serious psychological and social impact on the family and community. Deaths among women of reproductive age reported as medico-legal cases were investigated to see the trend in terms of cause and manner of death. The study group consisted of a series of 328 consecutive forensic autopsies on women in the reproductive age group, performed between 2009 and 2011 at the Government Wenlock District Hospital, Mangalore, India by qualified specialist forensic medicine experts. Unnatural deaths formed 93.6% of the cohort. The top three causes of death included burns, poisoning and hanging forming 69.5% of the cases. The manner of death was suicide in 45.4% cases, accident in 43.6% cases and homicide in 4.6% cases. The circumstances of death were related to alleged medical negligence in 2.4% cases. Death in 4% cases was natural mannered with a disease being the cause of death. Three-fourths of the victims were married. Married women formed 63.1% of the suicidal victims. Homicidal deaths were not reported among unmarried women. The preponderant method of suicide was by poisoning at 42.3% (63 cases), followed by hanging (34.9%), burns (11.4%) and drowning (9.4%). These four methods comprised 98% of the total suicidal deaths in this study cohort. Accidental deaths were predominantly caused by burns (62.2%) and road traffic accident (23.1%). Two-thirds of the homicidal deaths were due to assault caused by blunt-force trauma, ligature strangulation and sharp-force trauma. One-third of the homicidal victims died due to burns. With a clear understanding of the cause and manner of death, it may be possible to predict, and hopefully prevent, future cases of unnatural deaths in women of reproductive age who form a very important group of society.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine