A 5-year study (1982-1986) illustrates the use of mental status in death certification of suicide in 182 consecutive cases from Marion County, Oregon, U.S.A. The presence of specific mental illness was documented in Part II of the filed death certificate whenever sufficient data supported such a diagnosis. This study represents, so far as we are aware, the first use of mental illness in the routine death certification of suicide. The study subjects were described in terms of sex; age group; the presence or absence of a suicide note; the anatomical cause of death (Part I of the death certificate); and the presence of mental illness, severe physical illness, or alcohol abuse (Part II of the death certificate) as contributive to the death. About half (97 of 182 = 53.30%) of the study group was diagnosed as suffering from a major affective disorder. Another portion (18 of 182 = 9.89%) was classified as schizophrenic. A subgroup of 18 men, all of whom were residents of state mental or correctional institutions at the time of death, was also briefly described.