Suicide by drowning: A 20-year review

Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, Dallas, TX, USA.
Journal of Forensic Sciences (Impact Factor: 1.16). 02/2002; 47(1):131-6.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Drowning as a method of suicide is known to occur, but has primarily been described in environments with readily available access to water, such as coastal regions. In this study, we describe and analyze a series of suicidal drownings occurring in a noncoastal area of Texas. Between 1977 and 1996, 52 cases of suicidal drowning were investigated at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas, Texas. Such deaths accounted for only 0.85% of all suicides and 4% of all drowning deaths. In contrast. suicidal drownings reportedly account for 2.8 to 8.9% of all suicides in regions with easy access to water. As with other studies of suicidal drowning, the victims are usually sober white males over the age of 40 years. Our results also confirm that certain individuals who commit suicide by drowning use weights to facilitate the process. A detailed analysis of the cases is provided. as is a synopsis of several questions that may aid in determining the manner of death in suicidal drowning cases.

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    • "Drowning is a common method of suicide [9,29-32] and in the present study suicide constitutes 31% of all cases and 7% of all suicides in Sweden. Notably, in Sweden suicidal drowning is most frequent in females especially in the age groups 50 to 79 years. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Drowning deaths constitute a significant proportion of unnatural deaths globally. In Sweden and other high-income countries, drowning deaths have decreased. This study investigates the epidemiology and current trends of unintentional, intentional, and undetermined drowning deaths with emphasis on the presence of alcohol and other drugs. Methods During an 18-years period, 5,125 drowning deaths were autopsied in Sweden. Data on cases including toxicological analysis on alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs, and illicit drugs were obtained from the National Board of Forensic Medicine. Results During the study period, the annual incidence of drowning deaths in Sweden was 3.1/100,000 inhabitants and decreased on average by about 2% each year (p<0.001). The highest incidence was found among males and in middle/older age groups. The incidence increased 3% for each year of age. Children/adolescents (≤18 years) constituted 5% of all drowning deaths. Of all drowned females in the study, 55% (847/1,547) committed suicide, which was a significantly higher proportion compared with males (21%, 763/3,578) (p<0.001). In total, 38% (1,656/4,377) of tested drowned persons had alcohol in their blood and the mean concentration was 1.8 g/l. In the unintentional drowning group, intentional drowning group, and the undetermined group, the proportion of alcohol positive was 44%, 24%, and 45%, respectively. One or several psychoactive drugs were present in the blood in 40% (1,688 /4,181) of all tested persons and in 69% (965/1,394) of tested persons who died from suicidal drowning. The most common drug was benzodiazepines (21%, 891/4,181). Illicit drugs were detected in 10% (82/854) of tested persons. Conclusion Presence of alcohol and drugs were frequent and may have contributed to the drowning deaths. The incidence of drowning deaths significantly decreased during the study period. Males and the middle/older age groups had a higher incidence compared to females and children. Suicidal drowning was common especially among women. Alcohol and drugs are significant contributors in drowning deaths in Sweden and should be considered as part of a comprehensive prevention program.
    BMC Public Health 03/2013; 13(1):216. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-13-216 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    Article: Drowning
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    ABSTRACT: Recent epidemiologic data have shown that the burden of drowning is much greater than expected. Prevention and timely rescue are the most effective means of reducing the number of persons at risk. Early bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation is the most important factor for survival after submersion. Cerebral damage is a serious threat when the hypoxic period is too long. In most situations, low body temperature is an indication of the severity of the drowning incident. Sometimes hypothermia that occurs during the submersion period can be brain protective. There is also new evidence to support the strategy of inducing mild hypothermia for a period of 12 to 24 hours in comatose drowning victims. In immersed patients, hypothermia should be treated. The most appropriate technique will depend on the available means in the hospital and the condition of the patient. Treatment of pulmonary complications depends on the lung injury that occurred during aspiration and the bacteria involved in aspiration. Understanding the pathophysiology of drowning may help us to understand lung injuries and ischemic brain injuries.
    Current Opinion in Critical Care 01/2003; 8(6):578-86. DOI:10.1097/00075198-200212000-00016 · 2.62 Impact Factor
  • American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology 04/2004; 25(1):52-5. DOI:10.1097/01.paf.0000113862.03302.1d · 0.70 Impact Factor
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