(Received 15 March 1988; accepted 28 April 1988)
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Death as a consequence of cocaine abuse is continuing to increase in all parts of the United States. Cocaine use may cause the development of psychosis, with subsequent expression of suicidal ideations, and potentially even successful suicide. Cocaine dependence may also cause depression in the individual who is unable to control his or her craving for the drug, and suicide may be perceived as the only solution to a desperate problem. Despite the dramatic escalation of cocaine abuse and the potential toxicity of this drug, there have been no reports within the United States of cocaine being used as the agent to accomplish a suicide. Herewith are reported three cases in which depression and desperation over cocaine dependence were the motivations for successful suicide, which was accomplished through the intravenous injection of cocaine to the point of death. True cocaine suicide is probably only identified through the presence of objective scene information that unequivocally proves suicidal intent, such as notes or letters which contain information to this effect. A careful search of the scene of death in cocaine fatalities is mandatory, and diligent application of routine scene investigation principles may reveal that suicide through the use of cocaine is more widespread than first appearances would suggest.
Chief medical investigator for the State of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Assistant professor of pathology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Office of the Medical Investigator for the State of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Stock #: JFS12629J