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Seven Mistakes in Suicide Investigations Essays

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When a death occurs suddenly, unexpectedly and from unnatural or unknown causes, a forensic scientist has the duty to gather and analyze evidence to determine whether the victim died from a previously undiagnosed disease or infection or from a homicide, suicide or accident (Lurigio, 2009). When considering suicide as the probable cause of death, we are looking at the act of intentionally killing oneself through one’s own effort or with the assistance of another (Sever, 2009). The resolution of the manner of death by a forensic pathologist as suicide is based on a series of factors which eliminate natural causes of death, homicide and accident (Geberth, 2013, p.55). The cause of death is also determined by the medical examiner in…show more content…
Should the case have legal implications relating to the cause of death, a forensic expert may be called upon to provide testimony in criminal and civil cases. Part of the expert witness testimony maybe by a forensic anthropologist who could delineate the length of the postmortem interval of when the human remains were discovered or determine cause and manner of death. Therefore, it is essential that the medicolegal death investigation follows established and approved procedures, so that the evidence will be admissible in court.
Geberth (2013) says one mistake is assuming the case is a suicide based on the initial report or the presentation in the body recovery scene (p.55). Investigators must be careful not to enter any investigation with a predetermined bias as to what the outcome of the cause of death determination might be. Coupled with this is the mistake of assuming “The Suicide Position” at the body recovery scene (Geberth, 2013, p.55). This position means the investigators take an abbreviated route when doing the investigation and by doing so do not do a thorough investigation as they would in a homicide. Law enforcement officers should investigate every death with the same thoroughness and intensity that they would use in a homicide investigation and let the facts alone determine the final outcome. As with any death investigation, protecting the integrity of scene of death and the evidence is extremely important, hence that there is no
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