Manner of death (MOD) classification (i.e., natural, accident, suicide, homicide, or undetermined cause) affects mortality surveillance and public health research, policy, and practice. Determination of MOD in deaths caused by drug intoxication is challenging, with marked variability across states.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a multidisciplinary meeting to discuss drug intoxication deaths as they relate to suicide and other MOD. The meeting objectives were to identify individual-level, system-level, and place-based factors affecting MOD classification and identify potential solutions to classification barriers.
Suggested strategies included improved standardization in death scene investigation, toxicology, and autopsy practice; greater accountability; and creation of job aids for investigators. Continued collaboration and coordination of activities are needed among stakeholders to affect prevention efforts.