The Modern Definition of death
The purpose of this paper is to highlight a personal reflection on the ‘modern’ definition of death as well as describe the meaning of the three stages of decompositions which are; rigor mortis, livor mortis and algor mortis. As the paper suggest death is the irreversible cessation of functioning of vital body systems like the respiratory, circulatory and the brain system.
The “modern” definition of death was as simple as what I had imagined. Before reading the “modern” definition of death, I would have defined death as loss of life whereby an individual’s vital body systems, such as respiratory system, has stopped. This is somehow similar to the ‘modern’ definition whereby it states that death is the irreversible cessation of either the respiratory system, the circulatory system or the brain functioning. Hence, the cessation of functioning of these vital body systems is what is refereed to death.
The three stages that assists medical examiners determine the time of death of a body is algor mortis, rigor mortis, and livor mortis. ‘Rigor mortis’ is whereby by a dead body stiffens after the contraction of body muscles. Rigor mortis takes place few hours after death and can keep on up to 24 hours (Spitz, Spitz, & Fisher, 2006). ‘Livor mortis’ is a stage of decomposition whereby when a body dies, the blood begins draining from the farthest point down to the area that’s on the ground.‘ livor mortis’, popularly known as “discoloration of death” , occurs at after the cessation of blood circulation (Spitz, Spitz, & Fisher, 2006). ‘Algor mortis’ is a stages of decomposition that occurs in a dead body within the first 24 to 48 hours after death. ‘Algor mortis’ is whereby a dead body starts to loose temperature or the cool down in temperatures.
Spitz, W. U., Spitz, D. J., & Fisher, R. S. (Eds.). (2006). Spitz and Fisher’s medicolegal investigation of death: guidelines for the application of pathology to crime investigation. Charles C Thomas Publisher.