At autopsy, tattoos are recorded as part of the external examination. An investigation was undertaken to determine whether negative messages that are tattooed on a decedent may indicate a predisposition to certain fatal outcomes.
Tattooed and nontattooed persons were classified by demography and forensics. Tattoos with negative or ominous messages were reviewed. Statistical comparisons were made.
The mean age of death for tattooed persons was 39 years, compared with 53 years for nontattooed persons. The association between the age of death and presence of a tattoo was statistically significant.
There was a significant contribution of negative messages in tattoos associated with nonnatural death but not with natural death. However, the presence of any tattoo was more significant than the content of the tattoo.
Persons with tattoos appear to die earlier than those without. There may be an epiphenomenon between having tattoos and risk-taking behavior such as drug or alcohol use. A negative tattoo may suggest a predisposition to violent death but is eclipsed by the presence of any tattoo.