We see lots of people who harm themselves. The most common ways of doing so are taking an overdose and cutting. Sometimes the cutting is in troubled people trying to let off stress rather than really trying to kill themselves. Often the cutting is more a cry for help or to get attention rather than a truly serious attempt at committing suicide.
Only occasionally do we see someone who really seems to be serious about killing himself by cutting. One such patient was a troubled young man who took a box cutter and cut his neck from one ear, across the front, over his Adam’s apple, to the other ear. He refused to say why he had done so.
The cut was really amazing. It was a serious attempt at suicide that cut down to but not into every vital structure he had in the front of his neck. I could look into the cut and see his carotid arteries, jugular veins, thyroid gland and larynx (voice box.) Somehow, he managed to perfectly expose all of these structures without injuring them other than a nick in the thyroid cartilage, which is what causes the Adam’s apple bump.
As I gazed into his wound, I was struck with how much detail I could see in his anatomy. Then it struck me there was no blood! After he cut himself, he ran through large sprinklers in a park. By the time he arrived in the emergency department, the bleeding had stopped and the wound had been washed clean in the sprinklers. It looked more like an anatomy specimen than an injured person.
He was taken to the operating room where the wound was carefully explored to make sure there were no important injuries and put him back together. He then was transferred to psychiatry.
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