(Received 20 January 1998; accepted 20 February 1998)
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Postmortem assessments of suicide risk factors present at the time of death were used to expose a murder masquerading as a suicide. Postmortem assessment of clinically based suicide risk factors in equivocal suicide cases should readily meet prevailing evidentiary criteria of “reasonableness.” Assessing the presence or absence of suicide risk factors can assist in clarifying the question of suicide intent at the time of death. However, discerning the motives for suicide is usually a more difficult task. Forensic opinions should avoid conclusory statements that invade the province of the fact finder in determining criminal responsibility.
Clinical professor of psychiatry and director, Program in Psychiatry and Law, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC,
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