Is a horizontal cut or vertical cut on wrists more dangerous?

  • Wait. Is that even true? Let’s compare three scenarios:

    1. You slit your wrists (not just cut them) from end to end. versus
    2. You chop your arm off. It completely detaches and is separated from your body.versus
    3. A team of surgeons amputate your arm in a operation theater as a medical procedure.

    Now the one thing that should be instantly obvious is that no. 3 is almost never a death scenario in the hands of a scientific team of surgeons. We don’t just put the patient on the table and go WHACK! with a machete. We anesthetize the patient. We inject drugs that slow blood flow and cause blood to pool in the legs. We open the arm in layers, clamping arteries as we go to block blood flow and using saws to disarticulate or cut through bones. So 3 is not what you are thinking of.

    Let’s compare scenario 1 and 2 to see what we can learn.

    This is the wrist in cross-section. Observe how close the important arteries are to the surface. Can a razor blade reach them? (I’ve included a scale drawing of a razor blade to help.)

    Now let us look at the arm in cross-section. We can do this at many levels. Let’s take a general look at the blood supply to the arm first. There are 4 arteries in sequence. I shall connect the sequence with clumsy yellow lines (because I am 5 years old).

    But this doesn’t really tell us how deep or superficial those arteries are. We want to know if they are accessible. So let’s look at cross-sections of the arm at multiple levels. Let us try the mid-forearm level first.

    You see? The arteries are covered by skin, fascia and muscle. What’s more, they aren’t easily identified from the surface.

    Why is that a problem? Because suicide is often an act of helplessness. People who kill themselves are usually running very low on mental energy reserves. That is why most people who kill themselves try to do so by ways that require minimal effort (a gun or jumping from a height).

    Now slitting a wrist is relatively easy because the structures are accessible. Even then, people don’t get it right on the first try. It isn’t unusual to see hesitation cuts on the wrists next to the final cut that did it. Why? Because cutting into your own body is painful. People kill themselves because they can’t take the pain. Why would they want to add to it?

    Let’s move a little higher. This is the mid-arm level.

    The artery you’re looking for is the brachial artery. Do you see how even deeper it is in the arm than the radial artery in the forearm?

    So you see one thing: the higher up in the limb, the bigger the blood vessel, the more deeper it will be sited so it is better protected from injury.

    But here’s another thing I should point out: look at the illustration of the arterial supply of the upper limb. Note that the brachial artery divides into the radial artery and ulnar artery. A greater portion of blood goes into the radial; but the portion going into the ulnar is substantial.

    You see? You would lose blood faster if you slit the brachial artery than if you slit the radial artery.

    So get this:

    • Slitting your wrists severs the radial artery.
    • Chopping off an forearm severs the radial and ulnar artery.
    • Chopping off an arm severs the brachial artery.

    Blood loss is therefore slowest when you slit your wrists.

    Now, the wrist contains both branches that derive from the brachial: the radial and the ulnar. But I only mentioned the radial in the above statement.


    Because when people slit their wrists, they usually cut only the radial artery.


    Because ergonomics. Look at the wrist again. Remember that a person cuts the arteries on one arm using a blade clasped in his other arm. And remember that your forearm is usually not palm-up or palm-down but midway between the two.

    So a person’s natural instinct is to take the blade in his dominant hand (usually the right) cross his arm over his chest and, starting from the far left, draw his dominant arm back toward its side. (Below is my illustration of a left-handed person doing it.)

    It makes more sense that the first cut would be on the non-dominant wrist and the second on the dominant wrist. Either way, the cuts tend to involve the cross-section as I’ve shown below.

    So you see why usually it’s just the radial artery that is severed in suicide attempts?

    So chopping off the limb at the mid-forearm or mid-arm level would actually kill a person faster (assuming no interventions). You just don’t hear about it for two reasons: statistics and social setting.

    Statistically, there are far more suicidal people who own razor blades than homicidal maniacs who own axes and machetes.

    Social setting. Most people with a slit wrist have one because they want it. They will do it in a setting where it is hard to stop them (usually in silence behind a locked door). But most people with a chopped-off limb never asked for it. They will seek out help loudly and eagerly.

    And that is why slit wrists kill more people every year than chopped-off limbs.

Buy CBD Oil Pennsylvania