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What Happens to Your Body When You Die by Gunshot

Updated November 9, 2018 566.3k views17 items

So. You've just been shot. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Either way, the timeline of your life just became significantly shorter, and there's barely a moment to even rationalize that a small piece of metal is (most likely) lodged inside you somewhere. You're very quickly finding out what a bullet feels like when it pierces your skin.

But let's rewind for a moment: what is actually happening to your body after it's been shot? 

The answer isn't quite so simple - there are actually many things occurring in those brief, fleeting moments. If you've ever wondered what getting shot feels like, read on for the gruesome explanation.

  • You Won't Even Realize What's Happened at First

    Imagine you're in the comfort of your own apartment. It's Saturday afternoon, you've just sat down to binge the entire first season of Stranger Things (seriously, so good), and life couldn't be better.

    Unfortunately, the neighbors downstairs have other plans for their weekend. They've just picked up a brand new Glock 32 handgun. Even more unfortunate is that they have no idea how to properly handle the thing.

    So, long story short, that Glock 32 accidentally discharges, instantly ripping a hole in the ceiling and, milliseconds later, ripping another one right through your left foot. The thing is, it takes a few moments for your brain to properly process what's happened. Why? Because a bullet, on average, travels at 1,126 feet per second

    And, perhaps, because getting shot is usually the last thing we expect? 

  • Flesh and Organs Quickly Cave In

    Well, you're really in trouble now - because there's a bullet headed straight for you. Perhaps you didn't duck out of the way in time, and running away certainly didn't work, so it's time to face the cold, hard, truth: you're about to be shot. 

    So, how does it happen? Well, first, the skin is either completely destroyed, or torn away in shredded flaps to perhaps be stitched back together if there's anything left worth saving. After that, whatever area just had a small, metal, unwanted visitor pass through it is going to experience cavitation. That is, depending on which organ and how much skin the bullet had to pass through, there's going to be a literal hole in your body that will have caved in, causing further damage to nerves, muscles, and blood vessels from whatever bits of you it just erased.

    And the worst part? It's not even finished.

  • The Severity of Your Injury Can Vary Wildly

    We're accustomed to seeing the good guys in film and TV walk off after getting shot once or twice. A simple flesh wound, patched up with a few gauze bindings, and they're good to go. 

    But hopefully, you're not surprised to learn there's actually a little more to taking a bullet than simply brushing it off and busting the bad guys. So, to talk about gunshot wounds, let's first talk about the actual impact of the bullet on a person's body. That is, its "stopping power."

    Stopping power is basically the severity of gunshot wound you're about to experience, and this all comes down to a variety of factors: the caliber of the gun itself, the shape, size, and material of the bullet, and the muzzle velocity of the handheld instrument of death you're taking a hit from. 

    Different combinations of these elements determine whether or not you're going to keep chasing the bad guys after a quick patch-up - or be dead before you hit the ground.

  • The Bullet Can Fragment and Cause More Damage Inside You

    One might think getting shot is a simple in-and-out process, but, sadly, that couldn't be further from the truth. 

    That's because a bullet is designed to kill things, remember? And its job isn't over just because it's already entered your body. 

    Instead, the bullet often fragments when it strikes bone, causing not only smaller bits of it but also jagged slivers of bone to ricochet around inside your body . Basically, a bullet can act as a small, fast Trojan horse: one little threat suddenly turns into dozens, all bouncing around inside your body and doing exponential amounts of damage.