Complications in assigning suicide as a manner of death
Abbott, Dustin Lin
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An in-depth review of relevant international literature in the field of death investigation was performed with the intention of assessing the complex ethical, legal, and medical considerations unique to the investigation of self-inflicted fatalities. The overall goal was to present a set of guidelines to be used in the development of more objective criteria for the determination of suicidal manner of death and to highlight the inherent difficulties in suicide investigation, which can often lead to misclassification at autopsy. Findings showed that suicides rates seem to fluctuate inversely to the number of deaths deemed as being of undetermined manner; this strongly suggests that many suicides are going unreported. There were also a significant number of case studies found which indicated conflicting scientific findings regarding gross anatomical or toxicological findings of suicide victims, and a number of others which showed cases of suicide which were intentionally disguised as either homicidal, natural, or accidental death and vice versa. The most commonly agreed upon signs of each method of suicide are summarized and suggestions for a consistent methodology for both scene investigation and autopsy are given.
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