Journalist Posits That Otto Warmbier's Brain Damage Was A Result Of Failed Suicide Attempt

A newly published editorial for GQ Magazine written by author Doug Bock Clark has suggested that the brain damage that Otto Warmbier suffered while in North Korean captivity was a result of a failed suicide attempt.
On March 16, 2016, Warmbier — a former 22-year-old University of Virginia student — was tried and convicted for the theft of the propaganda poster from a restricted area of a North Korean hotel and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. It was the last time he would ever be seen fully conscious.
After 17 months in captivity — 14 of which were spent in a comatose state — Warmbier was released back to the United States on June 13, 2017, and was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center for immediate evaluation and treatment. Warmbier never regained consciousness and died just six days later.
Now, over a year after Warmbier’s death, Clark claims that, contrary to popular belief,  Warmbier was never physically tortured by the North Korean authorities during his captivity in 2016 and 2017.
Despite the fact that the Trump administration perpetuated claims that Warmbier was tortured, Clark claims that his six-month investigation has suggested otherwise.
Perhaps most notable is that Clark suggests that the brain damage was caused by a failed suicide attempt, stating: “The likelihood that his brain damage happened immediately after the sentencing, however, raises the possibility that he may have attempted suicide.”
via GQ

Despite how Trump and his administration boosted the narrative that Otto was physically tortured, however, the evidence was not clear-cut. The day after the Warmbiers went on national television to declare that Otto had been “systematically tortured and intentionally injured,” a coroner who had examined Otto, Dr. Lakshmi Kode Sammarco, unexpectedly called a press conference. She explained that she hadn’t previously done so out of respect for the Warmbiers. But her findings, and those of the doctors who had attended Otto, contradicted the Warmbiers’ assertions.
Fred had described Otto’s teeth as having been “re-arranged” with pliers, but Sammarco reiterated that the postmortem exam found that “the teeth [were] natural and in good repair.” She discovered no significant scars, dismissing the one on his foot as not definitively indicative of anything. Other signs of physical trauma were also lacking. Both sides of Otto’s brain had suffered simultaneously, meaning it had been starved of oxygen. (Blows to the head would have likely resulted in asymmetrical, rather than universal, damage.) Though the Warmbiers declined a surgical autopsy, non-invasive scans found no hairline bone fractures or other evidence of prior trauma. “His body was in excellent condition,” Sammarco said. “I’m sure he had to have round-the-clock care to be able to maintain the skin in the condition it was in.” When asked about the Warmbiers’ claims, Sammarco answered, “They’re grieving parents. I can’t really make comments on what they said or their perceptions. But here in this office, we depend on science for our conclusions.” Three other individuals who had close contact with Otto on his return also did not notice any physical signs consistent with torture.

The entire article, which can be found over at GQ, is a detailed, heartwrenching account of Warmbier’s “crime”, his capture, the efforts to rescue him, and the circumstances behind his tragic death.

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