Suicide pacts: six cases and literature review

J Forensic Sci. 2013 Jul;58(4):1092-8. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.12056. Epub 2013 Mar 25.


A suicide pact is the decision of two or more people to die together. This event is rare. The majority of suicide pacts victims are married, socially isolated, with a serious physical illness in one or both partners. We performed a retrospective study of all cases of suicide pacts leading to death between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2010 referred to the Forensic Medicine Department of Tours (France). Six cases were recorded as suicide pacts. Firearms were the preferred means of death. Five suicide notes were discovered. For some cases, it was difficult to establish whether death was the result of a suicide pact or of a homicide-suicide without the consent of the victim. An objective element, such as a suicide note and motive, is required to prove that a suicide pact is involved. The prevalence of mental disorders is hard to assess. In France, psychological autopsies are not performed in such cases, as the investigation is usually very sparse after the death of both individuals.

Keywords: double suicide; elderly; forensic psychiatry; forensic science; suicide; suicide pact.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asphyxia / pathology
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Correspondence as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Neck Injuries / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spouses*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / pathology