Volume 44, Issue 5 (September 1999)
Suicidal Drowning in South Florida
Autopsy protocols at the office of the Chief Medical Examiner were reviewed with respect to suicidal drowning. Between July 1, 1994 and June 30, 1998, there were 267 drownings and 873 people committed suicide in Broward County, Florida. Of those, 25 were suicidal drownings, representing 2.86% of all suicides, and overall the 8th leading cause of suicidal death.
When considering suicide in the age group of 65 years and older, (n = 239), which accounts for 19.8% of the population and 27.4%, of all suicides, drowning represents 6.7% of all suicidal deaths, and within females in this group represents the third most common form of suicidal death (13.8%).
The presence of alcohol or other drugs is less usual in elderly suicide victims than younger victims. Of the 25 drowning suicides, there was a preference for swimming pools, canals, and lakes as the locations of choice. Additional drowning and suicide related criteria were evaluated including marital status, mental health, clothing worn, previous attempts or threats, suicide notes, and personal effects at the scene; with the intention of establishing a profile for drowning by suicide.
Given the relative abundance of water, the suicidal drowning rate appears to be lower than what might otherwise be anticipated.