Improving the validity and reliability of medical-legal certifications of suicide

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 1987 Winter;17(4):310-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1943-278x.1987.tb00071.x.


On a very basic level, those who study suicide are either explicitly or implicitly concerned with the certification of suicide deaths by coroners and medical examiners. Although many authors have questioned the reliability and validity of officially reported rates, these statistics continue to be quoted as fact--a potentially problematic practice for researchers who seek accurate and true causative factors for suicidal behavior. In relation to this topic, this article provides an overview of the existing vital statistics registry system and describes and proposes innovations that could ultimately improve the quality of officially reported suicide statistics.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Death Certificates*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • United States
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality