Volume 36, Issue 1 (January 1991)

    Empirical Criteria for the Determination of Suicide Manner of Death

    (Received 19 October 1989; accepted 1 February 1990)


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    A 16-item instrument was constructed as a tool to assist medicolegal officials in their investigations and certifications of suicidal deaths. The Empirical Criteria for the Determination of Suicide (ECDS)—derived from a combined set of the 22 criterion items of the Operational Criteria for the Determination of Suicide (OCDS) and 33 other items obtained from experts and the professional literature—was constructed and validated by using 126 suicide and accident cases obtained from 70 medical examiner participants. Analysis of the cases confirmed that suicide is a manner of death in which there is evidence of both self-infliction and intention to die. The 16 items retained in the ECDS discriminated suicides from accidents best in relation to self-infliction and intention. In analysis of its concurrent validity, the ECDS instrument predicted 100% of the suicides and 83% of the accidents, thus correctly identifying 92% of all cases.

    Author Information:

    Berman, AL
    Professor of psychology, The American University, Washington, DC

    Jobes, DA
    Assistant professor of psychology, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

    Wright, DG
    Forensic pathologist, Division of Forensic Pathology, The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC

    Casey, JO
    Psychologist, Patuxent Institute, Jessup, MD

    Stock #: JFS13025J

    ISSN: 0022-1198

    DOI: 10.1520/JFS13025J

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    Title Empirical Criteria for the Determination of Suicide Manner of Death
    Symposium , 0000-00-00
    Committee E30