Journal Published Online: 01 January 2002
Volume 47, Issue 1

Suicide by Drowning: A 20-Year Review



Drowning as a method of suicide is known to occur, but has primarily been described in environments with readily available access to water, such as coastal regions. In this study, we describe and analyze a series of suicidal drownings occurring in a noncoastal area of Texas. Between 1977 and 1996, 52 cases of suicidal drowning were investigated at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas, Texas. Such deaths accounted for only 0.85% of all suicides and 4% of all drowning deaths. In contrast, suicidal drownings reportedly account for 2.8 to 8.9% of all suicides in regions with easy access to water. As with other studies of suicidal drowning, the victims are usually sober white males over the age of 40 years. Our results also confirm that certain individuals who commit suicide by drowning use weights to facilitate the process. A detailed analysis of the cases is provided, as is a synopsis of several questions that may aid in determining the manner of death in suicidal drowning cases.

Author Information

Wirthwein, DP
Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, Dallas, TX
Barnard, JJ
Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, Dallas, TX
Prahlow, JA
South Bend Medical Foundation and the Department of Pathology, Indiana University School of Medicine, South Bend Center for Medical Education at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
Pages: 6
Price: $25.00
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Stock #: JFS15213J
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS15213J