Journal List > Korean J Leg Med > v.43(4) > 1138572

Kim, Lee, and Kim: Review of Suicidal Electrocution in South Korea from 2008 Year to 2018 Year


The authors investigated the cases of electrocution suicides in South Korea from 2008 to 2018. Out of 151,419 suicides during this 11-year period, suicide by electrocution was extremely rare. Only nine victims were recorded in eight cases, with one case involving a married couple. The majority of the victims were men (89%), and only one case involved a woman (11%). The mean age of the victims was 55 years, and ranged from 38 to 74 years. In all cases, the suicides occurred in the home, and low-voltage electricity was used. Two of the nine victims (22%) had an occupation related with electrical knowledge. Mental illness, such as depression and schizophrenia, was found in two cases (22%). An autopsy was not performed in all cases.

Figures and Tables

Fig. 1

Case No. 2, electrocution suicide of the couple. (A) The deceased were found to have used a limit switch, AC electronic switch, timer, electric wires, electrical plugs, and plywood. Two of the four wires from the alternator were wrapped around the left ankles of the individuals. The husband held one exposed wire in his mouth. The other wire was connected to the limit switch to activate the timer. (B) Electrical burn was observed in the left buccal mucosa of the husband's mouth. (C) Circumferential electric burns were present around the left ankles of the individuals.

Fig. 2

Electrical burns were observed in all of the deceased. (A) Case No. 8. A linear wound from the electric contact was clearly seen on the front of the wrist (arrow). On the hand dorsum, a part of the skin was burned, and the blisters were exfoliated. (B) Case No. 6. The wire was attached to the left anterior chest wall using a cloth band and a belt buckle (not shown). An elliptical electric burn measuring 8×4 cm was present on the anterior chest wall.

Table 1

Cases of suicidal electrocution in south Korea (2008–2018)


AC, alternating current; DC, direct current; M, male; F, female.


Conflicts of Interest No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


1. Tirasci Y, Goren S, Subasi M, et al. Electrocution-related mortality: a review of 123 deaths in Diyarbakir, Turkey between 1996 and 2002. Tohoku J Exp Med. 2006; 208:141–145.
2. Rautji R, Rudra A, Behera C, et al. Electrocution in South Delhi: a retrospective study. Med Sci Law. 2003; 43:350–352.
3. Murty OP. Unusual self-electrocution simulating judicial electrocution by an adolescent. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2008; 29:167–169.
4. Kim DY, Lee S. Extreme suicide. Korean J Leg Med. 2019; 43:33–36.
5. Seo JS, Lee BW, Jeon SH, et al. Medicolegal investigation of electrocution: the importance of the scene of the accident. Korean J Leg Med. 2002; 26:10–19.
6. Solarino B, Di Vella G. Electrocution by arcing: a nonfatal case study. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2011; 32:324–326.
7. Parakkattil J, Kandasamy S, Das S, et al. Atypical exit wound in high-voltage electrocution. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2017; 38:336–338.
8. Das S, Patra AP, Shaha KK, et al. High-voltage suicidal electrocution with multiple exit wounds. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2013; 34:34–37.
9. Toro K, Kristof I, Kardos M. Suicidal hanging on high-voltage line pylon. J Forensic Sci. 2008; 53:1200–1203.
10. Lucas J. Electrical fatalities in Northern Ireland. Ulster Med J. 2009; 78:37–42.
11. Kuhtic I, Bakovic M, Mayer D, et al. Electrical mark in electrocution deaths: a 20-years study. Open Forensic Sci J. 2012; 5:23–27.
12. Chan P, Duflou J. Suicidal electrocution in Sydney: a 10-year case review. J Forensic Sci. 2008; 53:455–459.
13. Dokov W. Forensic characteristics of suicide by electrocution in Bulgaria. J Forensic Sci. 2009; 54:669–671.
14. Wick R, Gilbert JD, Simpson E, et al. Fatal electrocution in adults: a 30-year study. Med Sci Law. 2006; 46:166–172.
15. Karger B, Suggeler O, Brinkmann B. Electrocution: autopsy study with emphasis on “electrical petechiae”. Forensic Sci Int. 2002; 126:210–213.

Dae Yoil Kim

SangHan Lee

Dong Ja Kim

Similar articles