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Planned and Unplanned Complex Suicides: A 5-year Retrospective Study

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The notion of planned and unplanned complex suicides first appeared in 1974 by Marcinkowski and, since then, no systematic study of complex suicides has been published in the English forensic literature. Here, the authors present a 5-year retrospective study of complex suicides. Nineteen complex suicides were reviewed: five unplanned and 14 planned, including the first case of an unplanned complex suicide in a woman. All cases were analyzed in terms of gender, age, methods of suicide, the presence of a suicide note, and past suicide attempts, and statistically compared with a 50-case sample of simple suicides. A further comparison was established with compiled data from the literature. Similarities were revealed regarding incidence of complex suicides, male gender predominance, and types of methods used. In contrast, results showed a higher average age for planned complex suicide victims. Finally, the authors discuss the application of the complex suicide definition.

Keywords: complex suicide; forensic pathology; forensic science

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale, Édifice Wilfrid-Derome, 1701, Parthenais street, 12th floor, Montreal, QBC, Canada, H2K 3S7.

Publication date: March 1, 2007


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