The British Journal of Psychiatry
The limitations of official suicide statistics.
I O'Donnell, R Farmer


BACKGROUND This study explored some of the problems associated with current procedures for the ascertainment of suicide.

METHOD A sample of 242 deaths which were known to have been self-inflicted was followed up through the coroners' courts where causes of death were legally established.

RESULTS Verdicts other than suicide were returned on half of the men, and on one-quarter of the women.

CONCLUSIONS For suicide statistics to become valid indicators of suicide rates it might be more appropriate to apply the civil, rather than the criminal, standard of proof during inquest proceedings.