The first thing to note, although quite obviously, is that whoever discovers the body will be faced with the somewhat harrowing site of a body hanging by a noose. The neck will have deep bruising and rope marks due to the suspension. Clarke1 states that in some cases there may be effusions of urine and faeces as the sphincter muscles become deprived of oxygen and thus relax. The opening of the sphincters can also be caused by an adrenaline rush which is common in circumstances of extreme fear.

How the face look will be influenced by the impact of the rope on the blood vessels and wind pipe. The colour of the face may simply be pale, or turned blue due to lack of oxygenated blood to the head. If the rope traps the jugular vein but not the carotid artery, a swollen, blue-tinged face is the likely result. The tongue may also be swollen for the same reasons, and protrude from the mouth. Where the face has become swollen, there are likely to be little blood marks on the face and in the eyes from burst blood capillaries.

Where death has occurred primarily through compression of the carotid artery, the face will typically be pale in colour and not show blood marks. Both Clark1 and Stone2 cite studies of short drop hangings which seem to show that the person died quickly and fairly peacefully, but this is not always the case.


  1. Richard Clark. Capital Punishment UK 1995.
  2. Geo Stone, Suicide and Attempted Suicide, 1999.