I've been lucky enough not to have attended any horrific suicides since I joined CSI. Needless to say, any suicide is sad. I think the saddest part for me is the fact that someone is in a situation that they believe causing their own death is the only answer.
In a professional way, I enjoyed going to this particular job. I know at first it sounds morbid or even heartless, but you have to understand that these are the type of incidents I will attend throughout my career, I will never enjoy the fact that people have caused their own death, but I do enjoy the opportunity to investigate it. My aim is to conduct myself as professionally as possible and that the investigation is conducted to the best of my ability.
I wasn't far off the end of an early turn (0700-1500) when the call came over the radio. Uniform and CID officers were at an address where a male was deceased. I didn't have to go, as the lates crew were on. CSI Woman (not the same person as CSI Girl obviously) was heading out to it and asked if I wanted to come along. I'd never turn down an opportunity to gain experience.
I sent a text message to my other half to tell her I'd be late home- she's used to it by now.
It didn't take long to get to the address, it was only a few miles away. I drove in a seperate van to CSI Woman so I could go back to the office when we'd finished. We approached the address together, but I let CSI Woman go slightly ahead of me, after all this was her job and she has much more experience than me.
I could see two uniformed officers at the end of the pathway, they'd already recognised our vans and knew who we were, the Detective was inside the property. We'd been called as it wasn't clear how the male had passed away at first, and we are called to any unexplained or suspicious deaths. A police officer's first and foremost duty is to protect life and property, once it had been ascertained that the male had passed away, officers should leave the address to preserve as much evidence as possible.
If it had turned out that the male had been murdered, for example, then the potential for contamination or disturbance of any evidence is high, especially if a Detective was wondering around inside picking things up!
CSI Woman waited at the door and called the Detective outside. He explained to us that the male was in the upstairs rear bedroom and that it had appeared he had taken an overdose.
CSI Woman and I suited and booted, we wore white suits, shoe covers, masks and gloves. This is for two reasons- the first and most important is to avoid any contamination of evidence. We don't want to deposit anything from our persons at the scene and nor do we want to move evidence on our clothing or shoes etc. The second reason is for hygiene, I don't particularly want any hazardous fluids on my clothing, and the other half also has an issue with it apparently.
The officers confirmed that the property had been secure upon their arrival, and that they'd forced the door with an enforcer as there were concerns for the safety of the occupant.
We made our way to the upstairs rear bedroom. It was important to actually look and observe whilst we made our way there- the stairs were void of any carpet. The bare wood was exposed, but it wasn't treated. There were splashes of paint on the wood. It was clear that this was old as the hallway seemed to have had paper on the walls for sometime.
As I walked into the bedroom where the male was, the first thing I saw was a large dark wood chest of drawers. There were various items on the top of this. The thing that stood out the most was the assortment of tablet containers, there were an unusually odd number of them.
As I pushed the door, it opened to show the whole room. No lights were on and it was cold, it was still light outside and the light shone through the window which gave a slight yellow hue to the room.
Face down, half on the bed and half on the floor, sloped at an awkward angle, was the deceased male. He was wearing a dark red jumper and green cord trousers, and he was likely to be in his late forties. The room was littered with cigarette ends and ash. There was a dustbin but there was little rubbish inside it, and I noted six empty whisky bottles on the floor near the male.
Before we touched or moved anything, CSI Woman took photographs. This allows a record to be made of the scene before we 'disturb' it. If we needed to confirm or query something at a later date, we could refer to the photographs.
Whilst CSI Woman was taking the photographs of the deceased male, I had a look in the front bedroom. It wasn't really a bedroom so much as a junk room. There were nondescript boxes stacked four or five high along one wall. They were addressed to the deceased male, and on closer investigation I could see they were full of Styrofoam balls. I dug around in the box and found a number of tubs, identical to those on the chest of drawers in the rear bedroom. I looked at one of the delivery notes inside one of the boxes, they had been shipped from an Internet based company in the States. They appeared to be mostly herbal tablets for weight loss- there were probably in excess of a hundred containers of tablets.
The Detective had found a note in the front room downstairs which appeared to be written by the deceased male. It was a note explaining why he had taken his own life and how he couldn't carry on with things as they were. The male had experienced serious mental health issues for some time and it was evident that his treatment had little effect. Along with the note were details of the deceased male's bank accounts, his will and other documents that would assist his family in dealing with his affairs after his death.
The fact that everything so far was suggesting that the male had committed suicide meant that we now had to ensure there was no evidence to the contrary at the scene.
CSI Woman and I had a thorough look around the property. Sadly, there weren't many personal possessions there at all, the fridge was full of food that had been decaying for weeks, even though the male had been seen alive only a few days ago. I also noted that there was a pet's food bowl in the kitchen on a mat and a cat flap, so I assumed the cat was out.
The male was obese and appeared rather unfit. However, there were fitness and body building products in the kitchen cupboards, including more containers of the herbal tablets that I had found upstairs.
Once we had finished our search and established that there appeared to be nothing that would raise suspicion of anything other than suicide, we went back to the upstairs rear bedroom.
We had to check the deceased male's body for any bruising or wounds, I checked the male's back. His skin was blistered and off colour but there were no wounds. As the male was of large build, it took two of us to turn him over. Where his face had been against the edge of the bed, it had flattened on one side.
After the heart stops beating, the blood in the body stops moving around. Gravity will take effect on the blood and it will settle in the body- this is known as Lividity or Livor Mortis. When the skin where the blood has settled comes into contact with an hard object or surface, that area appears to be white, the blood cannot settle there due to the contact. The male's face had an area of skin that was still white, whereas the rest was a dark red colour, almost purple. Sometimes Lividity can look like bruising and it's important to realise the difference.
Underneath the male was another empty whisky bottle. It appears he may have had this bottle in his hand when he fell.
We checked the male's hands for any cuts that would suggest he'd been involved in an altercation before he died, we also checked the rest of his body, and there was nothing to suggest anything other than suicide.
Once we were satisfied that it was suicide, we requested that the undertakers attend the scene to remove the deceased male. Whilst we waited, I collected all of the open containers of pills from the bedroom and bagged them in clear plastic bags. These would prove useful if the Pathologist had any queries about the male's stomach contents when it came to the Post Mortem.
After a short time, the undertakers arrived. It was the same two undertakers that had attended the decomposed male in the bath (http://tinyurl.com/yfvgex6). The first thing we discussed was how difficult it would be for them to remove the male. I took them upstairs to the rear bedroom where the deceased male was, they looked at him and then looked at me with raised eyebrows. I took this to mean they'd need a hand in getting the male into the bag they'd brought with them.
The undertaker unzipped a large, thick, black bag, and lay it on the ground beside the male. We each took hold of the male and lifted him only a few inches off the ground and sideways into the open bag. He was heavy and the bag only just closed, he filled the bag with little room to spare.
The undertakers took the male down the stairs, pausing three times to rest before finally getting out of the front door and to their vehicle.
I had one quick look around the property and ensured we left with all of our kit and left. I got home only a few hours late.