The psychological autopsy: a useful tool for determining proximate causation in suicide cases.

D. Jacobs and M. Klein-Benheim,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law 23(2): 165-82, 1995.
This overview article examines the applications of the psychological autopsy method in determining proximate causation in suicide cases. The article reviews the history of the psychological autopsy and describes its procedure and how it has proved helpful in explicating proximate causation. The five standards currently used by the courts to determine proximate causation in suicide cases are described, as are a variety of applications of the psychological autopsy method, including its application to workers' compensation cases, product liability cases, and medical malpractice cases. In particular, issues of prediction and protection are addressed. Finally, there is a discussion of an application of the psychological autopsy to criminal cases. The article concludes with a discussion of the issues raised in the use of the psychological autopsy during expert testimony and the considerations that should be addressed by an expert witness contemplating the use of the psychological autopsy method. [References: 53]