Mental Disorders in Suicide and Undetermined Death in the Lundby Study. The Contribution of Severe Depression and Alcohol Dependence

The role of severe depression in suicide & undetermined deaths was evaluated. The Lundby Study is a prospective, longitudinal study of 3563 subjects. In a long-term follow-up, 1947-2006, there were 66 suicide cases including 19 undetermined deaths. Depression & alcoholism were, as expected, the major contributors to suicide. Severe depression with psychotic &/or melancholic features […]

Suicide in Nazi Concentration Camps, 1933-9

Combining legal, social, & political history, this article contributes to a more thorough understanding of the changing relationship between Nazi concentration camps as places of extra-legal terror & the judiciary, between Nazi terror & the law. It is argued the conflict between the judiciary & the SS was not a conflict between good & evil […]

The Identification of High-Risk Behavior That has the Potentiality of Culminating in the Covert Suicide of a law Enforcement Officer (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

The disinclination to discuss suicide is compounded in the law enforcement community where officers are expected “to suck it up” & not admit to problems. The literature is replete with examples of situations where an officer most likely died by suicide but the death was classified as accidental. In addition, careful perusal of officers’ deaths […]

Number of Addictive Substances Used Related to Increased Risk of Unnatural Death: a Combined Medico-Legal and Case-Record Study

This study examined the relationship between multi-drug substance use & natural & unnatural death. All consecutive, autopsied patients who had been in contact with the Addiction Centre in Malmo University Hospital from 1993-1997 were investigated. Drug abuse was investigated blindly in the case records & related to the cause of death in 387 subjects. Every […]

Copicide: Concepts, Cases, and Controversies of Suicide by Cop

This book brings together research on the phenomenon of suicide-by-cop. Topics covered include: definitions, curent research, & case studies with an analysis of police situations in which they occur, descriptions of the perpetrator’s background, & the motivation to engage in this behaviour. The psychological aftermath of these incidents for police officers is discussed. Suicide risk […]

Sex- and age-specific Trends in Mortality From Suicide and Undetermined Death in Germany 1991-2002

Clozapine and Postmortem Redistribution

The authors present a case study in which a patient being treated with clozapine was found dead with toxic levels of the drug in her blood. While the coroner expressed concern over the possibility of suicide, the authors argue that the elevated drug concentrations might instead have been caused by a postmortem redistribution of clozapine […]

“Mind your Manners”: Making Manner of Death Determinations

The Death of James Thomson (B.V.)

This article discusses the death of the poet James Thomson in 1882. Although it is known that Thomson spent the last weeks of his life on an alcoholic binge that culminated with his death of hemorrhage, speculation still abounds as to whether Thomson accidentally lost control of his drinking, or whether he drank himself to […]

Suicide in Young People Under 15 Years: Problems of Classification

This study examined the classification of suicide in children & young adolescents. The hypothesis that accidents might be classified wrongly as suicides, especially in the very young, was tested. Information was gathered from Norwegian registries about all suicides in people under 20 years of age during the period 1990-1992. The cases were reclassified as certain, […]

Suicide and Undetermined Death in South East Scotland. A Case-Control Study Using the Psychological Autopsy Method

Retrospective case-control comparison was made of cases of suicide/undetermined death with living controls using psychological autopsy in South East Scotland. Cases & controls were matched for age, sex & mental disorder. Case controls were not found to differ significantly in severity of mental disorder. The main factors independently associated with undertermined death or suicide were: […]

The Truth About Suicide in Portugal

In order to investigate the reasons for a decrease in male suicide rates over the past few years in Portugal, suicide rates were compared with controversial cases & with homicide rates. The results show that, since 1980 & coinciding with the use of ICD-9, controversial cases have increased 12 & 21 times among males & […]

Psychological Autopsies: the Current Department of Defense Effort to Standardize Training and Quality Assurance

This article describes psychological autopsies gathered by the American military following a suicide or equivocal death. A summary of the Department of Defense policy regarding psychological autopsies is provided. A sample model curriculum, report format & quality assurance standards are included. (6 refs) (SC)

The Tragic Death of Meriwether Lewis

This article examines the circumstances of Meriwether Lewis’ death by suicide in 1809. Although some have claimed that he actually died by homicide, the author argues that this account only became popular in the folklore surrounding Lewis 80 years after his death, & determines that there is no substantial evidence to support the claim. Lewis’ […]

Suicide Notes in the Courtroom

The suicide note is of particular interest & importance to the forensic scientist/clinician. In those cases dealing with wrongful death & suicide, the note can shed significant light on other forensic data, just as the other forensic data can shed significant light on the note. This paper presents two forensic cases to illustrate the prima […]

Self-Incineration: a Review of the Psychopathology of Setting Oneself Afire

Self-immolation can be a form of political protest but sometimes the death is actually a suicidal act of depression. This article reviews 27 studies published between 1965-1994. The classification of self-immolators is discussed. Case reports are provided to illustrate the various categories. The distribution of psychopathology does not appear to differentiate self-incinerators from those who […]

Acute Carbon Monoxide Toxicity and the Closed Garage

This article describes a clear-cut case of suicide & acute carbon monoxide toxicity as well as complicating factors such as appearance of an accident, absence of a suicide note, alcohol levels, incapacitation for acute medical reasons, family denial, & insurance money. It concludes that deaths in a closed garage due to acute carbon monoxide toxicity […]

Precipitants of Violent Deaths Among Young People: a Study Utilizing Subjects of the Philadelphia Collaborative Perinatal Project

This research proposal involves clinical evaluation of suicided youths & control subjects aged 5-25. The research will be conducted by cross referencing the Philadelphia Collaborative Perinatal Project database with the Pennsylvania Death Index to form a sample of 79 subjects. Psychological autopsies will be conducted to create a prototypical case for each of 3 groups: […]

Forensic Suicidology: Litigation of Suicide Cases and Equivocal Deaths (IN: Suicide: Guidelines for Assessment, Management, and Treatment, edited by B Bongar)

This chapter discusses four areas of suicide litigation: life insurance, malpractice, jail/prison suicides, & workmen’s compensation. It reviews basic forensic concepts, types of suicide litigation, common “mistakes” made by therapists & organizations when treating suicidal persons, retrospective assessment & prediction of suicides, &, ethical issues & practical matters. The approach is pragmatic and case centered. […]

Assessment in Absentia: the Value of the Psychological Autopsy Method for Studying Antecedents of Suicide and Predicting Future Suicides (IN: Assessment & Prediction of Suicide, ed. by Maris et al)

This chapter provides an historical view of psychological autopsies & highlights some of the findings generated by this form of research, paying particular attention to significant findings, methodological innovations, alternative definitions of the psychological autopsy method, & implications for predicting or averting suicides. It recommends standards & criteria for future psychological autopsy studies & briefly […]

Suicide as Psychache: a Clinical Approach to Self-Destructive Behavior


Case Consultation: the Case of Paul Framson

The case of Paul Framson, a 56-year-old futures broker, is presented. After his sudden death, 4 life insurance companies denied payment of death benefits claiming that Framson had committed suicide. When denied benefits, the insured’s estate may challenge the medical examiner’s determination of cause of death. This case illustrates the role played by suicidologists in […]

APA’s Expert Panel in the Congressional Review of the USS Iowa Incident

A 1989 explosion aboard the USS Iowa was attributed to intentional suicidal acts, a conclusion supported by a Federal Bureau of Investigation analysis. This article reviews the nature of the equivocal death analysis & related reconstructive psychological evaluations, discusses the conclusions & American Psychological Association involvement, & suggests limitations of the use of equivocal death […]