The Examination of Stomach Contents in a Suspected Suicide

This week (26 August – 01 September 2023), the Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (MAFS) is holding its annual meeting in Detroit, MI. Microtrace Research Microscopist Jason Beckert will present at the conference.

On Thursday August 31st, Mr. Beckert will give a presentation entitled “The Examination of Stomach Contents in a Suspected Suicide,” concerning an actual forensic investigation where plant material was discovered in the stomach of a suspected suicide victim.

For more information or to register for the conference, please click here.

Abstract- The Examination of Stomach Contents in a Suspected Suicide

Jason Beckert — Microtrace LLC

This presentation will discuss a case study involving the examination of the stomach contents of an individual suspected of committing suicide. The sample was submitted to our laboratory by a medical examiner who recognized the presence of some foreign material during an autopsy. He wanted to know if this material, ingested shortly prior to the decedent’s demise, could be related to the cause of death. Our analysis focused on the identification of this unknown material that we determined to be leaves and seeds from a yew (Taxus) plant. Yew plants, native to many regions in the Northern Hemisphere, are also commonly used in landscaping and are known to contain poisonous alkaloids. This presentation will also discuss the historical usage of yew plants as agents to facilitate suicide and homicidal poisonings.


The Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists was founded in 1971 as a non-profit organization where scientists from the Midwest could gather and discuss unique cases or research to help further the field and solve problems within the disciplines. Over the years, MAFS has grown to include participants from all over the U.S. and even some from outside the U.S.; however, the original goal of the organization has not changed.

Annual fall meetings and spring workshops are held to provide opportunities for scientists to advance their expertise and share their knowledge with others.

MAFS purpose is to encourage the exchange of ideas and information within forensic science as is exemplified through the mission statement “To further the field of forensic science by leading to inspire and inspiring to learn.”

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