Volume 45, Issue 6 (November 2000)
Suicide: A Ten-Year Retrospective Study
Suicide is a complex phenomenon associated with psychological, biological, and social factors, claiming approximately 30,000 lives each year in the United States. We retrospectively reviewed all cases referred to the Medical Examiners' Office/Forensic Pathology Section at the Medical University of South Carolina from January 1988 to December 1997. The cases of suicide totaled 678. All of the cases were analyzed as to age/race/sex, method of suicide, time of year, and toxicological results. Files were also reviewed to determine if the victim left behind a suicide note. The ages ranged from 12 to 94 years; males comprised 79.5% of the victims, and whites 78.3%. The male to female and white to black ratios were both 3.9:1. The most common methods were gunshot wounds, accounting for 64.6% of the cases. No correlation existed with time of year, and the number of cases was not increased around major holidays. The group of victims 65 years and older and the pediatric group under the age of 18 were also examined separately.