Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I'm not an expert in ligaturing. Everything I've read though backs up what I wrote above, that it is possible that bones in the neck are broken in suicide by hanging, but more likely that they are broken by homicidal strangulation.

This news source [1] goes over multiple academic papers that attempt to measure the likelihood of neck bone fractures in suicide versus homicide victims. On my own, I've searched and found multiple additional academic papers that, while disagreeing on the exact probabilities, all support the general conclusion that neck bone fractures are possible in a suicide but more likely in a homicide.

The implication of your comment is that, unlike me, you do know much about ligaturing, so I'd be interested in getting your expert opinion. Are neck bone fractures equally likely in suicidal hanging and homicidal strangulation?

You also write that the guards falling asleep is "worryingly common". I'm sure that's true - but what worries me most about this case is the confluence of multiple unlikely circumstances. Unfortunately the guards fell asleep, unluckily the video cameras failed, against the odds multiple bones in his neck broke while he knelt against his bed sheet, and, surprisingly, Epstein was the first suicide in 21 years at the facility.

Regarding your question about definitions - my understanding is that "suicide" is meant as a person killing themselves, and "at the MCC" means an MCC inmate who killed themselves at the MCC.

1 - https://heavy.com/news/2019/08/jeffrey-epstein-hyoid-bone-br...

[I was fantastically rude the first time I wrote this reply. Sorry. I've edited it to be much less rude, but I might have missed some.]

> Are neck bone fractures equally likely in suicidal hanging and homicidal strangulation?

It's not a question I'd ask. We don't need to know which is more likely. We only need to know that it's perfectly possible and normal to break bones in the neck from ligaturing.

> Regarding your question about definitions - my understanding is that "suicide" is meant as a person killing themselves,

This is wrong.

Hypothetical Bob takes an overdose of pills, but does not intend to die. He calls an ambo. The ambo doesn't get there in time, and Bob dies. Bob took an action that ended his life: did Bob die by suicide?

> and "at the MCC" means an MCC inmate who killed themselves at the MCC.

Is it where the death happens, or where the action that causes death happens? If someone takes an overdose of medication and is then transferred to hospital does that count as a death at MCC or a death at the hospital?

The point I'm trying, and failing, is that suicide is very common, especially among prisoners, especially among those facing trial for sex crimes. You've present four items that you think are unusual, especially when combined. But these are not in anyway unusual. They're very common.

The thing that stands out is the "no suicide here for X years" which is clearly nonsense. I can't be bothered to trawl through Manhattan laws and stats to try to understand it, but if people wanted to they might want to look at who rules a death as suicide, why they might chose not to do so, what definition of suicide they're using (especially around mental state and intent), what burden of proof they're using (beyond all reasonable doubt or balance or probabilities), and where the deaths occur and whether that makes any difference to the stats.

You're free to ask, or not ask, the questions you like. If you want to discuss a topic though, it would seem reasonable to answer the questions asked of you. As I asked before, are fractures of neck bones equally common in homicide versus suicide?

This is actually a meaningful question. We know that Epstein died and had bone fractures and are trying to determine whether the cause of death was murder, or suicide. How likely is the homicide conclusion given bone fractures? How likely is suicide? This strikes me as a time to apply Bayes Theorem and update our beliefs about certain explanations.

To put the situation into a metaphor involving urns - suppose you have drawn a red ball from an unlabeled urn. You know the urn is either an urn containing 80% red balls, or an urn containing 20% red balls. Are you ambivalent about which the urn you've just drawn from is? Statistically speaking, you should not be - having drawn a red ball, while possible to do from either urn, is more likely done from the 80% red urn.

To explain the metaphor - the red ball is a bone fracture, the 80% red urn is homicide, and the 20% red urn is suicide.

I'm surprised to see you disagree about the definition of suicide. The example you gave doesn't seem to be compelling evidence of ambiguity in the term. In your example, an inmate has taken an action that resulted in his death and this is clearly suicide. The fact that your notional inmate didn't intend to die may make for a philosophical debate about the definition of suicide - but given that nobody could know what the true intentions of the recently deceased were - it seems perfectly obvious that, yes, a man who has killed himself by taking too many pills has committed suicide.

I think this is a poor line of argument. The idea you are advocating, as I understand it, is that, there are possible alternative meanings for the words "suicide" and "at the MCC", and though you don't have any evidence that those alternative definitions exist or are in use, you're willing to offer that possibility as a criticism of what is reported in major news outlets. I agree that news outlets may have gotten confused about possible non-standard definitions of terms like "suicide" or "at the MCC" - but I disagree that we should assume this is the case without any evidence to think so.

You also write that the four circumstances I've presented are "very common". Without knowing how you mean the term "very common" I can't agree with that characterization. I'm also not at all convinced you have any idea how common it is for multiple video cameras on the same subject to fail, for guards to sleep through their rounds, for guards to falsify their records, for multiple neck bones to break during sheet strangling suicides, or for prisoners at the MCC to truly commit suicide. If I'm wrong, and you do know how likely these things are, kindly share a reputable source that explains the likelihood. I'd find that enlightening.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact