Volume 50, Issue 3 (May 2005)
Suicide: A Ten-Year Retrospective Review of Kentucky Medical Examiner Cases
Suicide, a manner of death, ranked as the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States and accounted for approximately 30,000 deaths in 2001. A host of biological and psychosocial components interplay in a suicide investigation. Precipitating factors may include domestic quarrels, loss of employment, financial difficulties, substance abuse, chronic disease, or mental illness. The authors conducted a ten-year (1993–2002) retrospective review of suicide from all Medical Examiners' Offices in Kentucky. There were 2,864 suicides ranging between 11 and 96 years (average age 42.0 years). The majority of victims were males (81.7%) and Caucasian (94.8%). African-American females comprised the smallest group, consisting of only 0.59%. The preferred mode of death was by firearm (67.5%), followed by hanging (13.7%), overdose (9.9%), and carbon monoxide poisoning (4.4%). This comprehensive study discusses the trends of suicide in the United States during the twentieth century and underscores the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to the investigation and prevention of suicide.