(Received 13 July 1985; accepted 7 October 1985)
Published Online: July
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The certification of suicide as the manner of death can result in either the complete loss or a significant reduction in life insurance benefits to the victim's survivors. It is, thus, not uncommon for these beneficiaries to contest suicide as the manner of death. Insanity is a recognized defense in law against suicide. It is recognized in law that, in some cases, an insane man cannot intentionally destroy himself. However, it is also recognized that life insurers can exclude suicide by an insane man from coverage. This article discusses the common law doctrines upon which the insanity defense to suicide is based, with references to judicial opinions from cases which involve contested suicides and the issue of insanity.
Assistant Chief Medical Examiner, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Western Division Commonwealth of Virginia, Roanoke, VA
Stock #: JFS11109J