The descriptive epidemiology of unnatural deaths in Oregon's state institutions: a 25-year (1963-1987) study. III. A 25-year overview of unnatural deaths in the mental and correctional facilities

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1992 Jun;13(2):159-68. doi: 10.1097/00000433-199206000-00016.


I document 25 consecutive years (1963-1987) of unnatural deaths within the State of Oregon's mental and correctional institutions in Marion County. This study includes 93 unnatural deaths in the Oregon State Hospital, 18 in the Forensic Psychiatric Program, 52 in the Fairview Training Center, and 45 in the Corrections Department facilities. These institutional unnatural deaths are compared with the 2,618 unnatural deaths that occurred during this same period in Marion County (exclusive of these state facilities). Death rates are shown in five 5-year blocks of time to illustrate death trends. Accidents and suicides were the predominant types of unnatural death in the Oregon State Hospital; suicides predominated in the Forensic Psychiatric Program and the corrections facilities; and accidents predominated in the Fairview Training Center. Extremely high total unnatural death rates were found in the Oregon State Hospital (approximately 520/100,000 or 8.46 times that found in Marion County) and the Forensic Psychiatric Program (approximately 561/100,000 or 9.13 times that found in Marion County). The overall accident death rate for the Fairview Training Center was approximately 119/100,000 or 2.84 times that found in Marion County. The overall total unnatural death rate for the corrections facilities was approximately 75/100,000 or 1.23 times that found in Marion County. I compare these data with those of other investigators in the United States, Canada, and western Europe. The total unnatural death rate appears to represent a valid criterion of violent death within a community.

MeSH terms

  • Commitment of Mentally Ill / statistics & numerical data
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Oregon
  • Prisons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*