Objective: Around the world, a substantial proportion of motor vehicle crash deaths are recognized as "hidden" suicides. This project sought to progress understandings of drivers who used a motor vehicle to die by suicide in Queensland, Australia, during the period 1990 to 2007.
Methods: Data for this study were derived from the Queensland Suicide Register and forensic crash investigation case records. Analysis focused on life circumstances and events preceding the death, physical and mental illnesses, past suicidality, and indication of suicide intent (e.g., suicide notes or statements).
Results: Compared to cases using other methods, confirmed driver suicides were more likely to be males aged between 25 and 44 years who were employed at the time of death. A large proportion of driver suicides had consumed alcohol immediately prior to the crash and experienced a number of life events, including relationship conflict, legal or criminal issues, and financial problems.
Conclusion: These exploratory results indicate the need to educate crash investigators about the characteristics of those who use a motor vehicle to die. Improving the information available on the mental and physical health and background life-related factors of crash victims can help coroners and researchers determine whether these deaths were intentional. Further investigation is needed in order to formulate intervention strategies for those who may be vulnerable to driver suicide.