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Man decapitates self: Head jerked off body during morbid suicide in Bronx

Man decapitates himself in gory scene on Bronx street.
Man decapitates himself in gory scene on Bronx street.
Wikimedia Commons

The man who decapitated himself in the middle of a Bronx street has sparked a debate on how long a human remains conscious after such a gruesome act. A 51-year-old man put a chain around his neck and then tied the other end to a pole. He got in his car, gunned the gas and literally popped his own head off, according to The Spread It on Sept 3.

The dead man is identified as Thomas Rivera from upstate New York. Rivera drove to the Bronx and committed this elaborate, but gruesome method of suicide in eyesight of passersby on a busy Bronx street.

Needless to say this man must have had some horrific unknown problems to end his life in such a way. When he pulled away and his head came off, it rolled and came to rest near the pole with the chain. The car continued until hitting another car. The force of that impact threw the man’s headless body out of his 1995 Honda and into the road.

People walking by saw this horrendous scene and thought that the collision was to blame for the man being decapitated. It was after police gathered video from the area’s surveillance cameras that they were able to see that this man committed suicide.

He was seen with the chain around his neck and he was seen attaching the other end of the chain to that pole. Then he was seen stepping into his car and pulling away at a high rate of speed, killing himself instantly once his head detached from his body.

The Inquisitr brings up concerns that this suicide was so morbid it hopefully doesn't spawn copy-cats. It has been in the headlines for a few days and it is a method of suicide that is rare. It also offers a shock-value to anyone who has heard about the sad event. Decapitation is usually an accidental form of dying, not used in a planned suicide. u

The Gawker ran this story and commenter chit chat started a debate on how long the brain stays conscious in a decapitation. One commenter, Gabrielle Bluestone said that “a severed head remains conscious up to a minute.” She then asks people to “Think about that for a while. A minute is a godd**m long time.”

In an article from CBS News a few years back suggests that the brain does survive decapitation if only for a few seconds. The article, titled “Head’s up: Brains found to survive decapitation,” suggests that the brain continues on for a short time after the head is detached from the body. The “wave of death,” which is a spike in neurons in the brain, happens about a minute after decapitation in the brains of mice.

While some theories say what is seen after decapitation such as the eyes blinking, comes with reflexes, but they die off after a few seconds. This is much like the saying "Running like a chicken with your head cut off." After farmers cut the head off a chicken on a farm, the chicken runs around without a head aimlessly. The reflexes are thought to be the cause of this as the nerves are still active.

Possible brain activity after decapitation is still presented in theory for humans, but shown to occur in mice. The theory suggests that the brain is still active after decapitation in humans, but it will most likely never be tested on people, so it will remain a theory.

Although it is fair to say that science points to the possibility the brain doesn’t shut off at the exact moment of decapitation. After reading about this horrific suicide, brain activity after decapitation is a subject that may be hard to ponder.

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