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The Next Generation of Psychological Autopsy Studies

Part I. Interview Content

Authors

  • Kenneth R. Conner PsyD, MPH,

    1. Kenneth R. Conner, Yeates Conwell, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, USA; Kenneth R. Conner, VA VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Canandaigua, NY, USA; Annette L. Beautrais, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; David A. Brent, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; David A. Brent, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Michael R. Phillips, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China; Michael R. Phillips, WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, Beijing Hua Long Guan Hospital, Beijing, China; and Barbara Schneider, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
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  • Annette L. Beautrais PhD,

    1. Kenneth R. Conner, Yeates Conwell, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, USA; Kenneth R. Conner, VA VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Canandaigua, NY, USA; Annette L. Beautrais, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; David A. Brent, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; David A. Brent, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Michael R. Phillips, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China; Michael R. Phillips, WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, Beijing Hua Long Guan Hospital, Beijing, China; and Barbara Schneider, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
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  • David A. Brent MD,

    1. Kenneth R. Conner, Yeates Conwell, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, USA; Kenneth R. Conner, VA VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Canandaigua, NY, USA; Annette L. Beautrais, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; David A. Brent, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; David A. Brent, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Michael R. Phillips, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China; Michael R. Phillips, WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, Beijing Hua Long Guan Hospital, Beijing, China; and Barbara Schneider, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
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  • Yeates Conwell MD,

    1. Kenneth R. Conner, Yeates Conwell, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, USA; Kenneth R. Conner, VA VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Canandaigua, NY, USA; Annette L. Beautrais, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; David A. Brent, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; David A. Brent, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Michael R. Phillips, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China; Michael R. Phillips, WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, Beijing Hua Long Guan Hospital, Beijing, China; and Barbara Schneider, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
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  • Michael R. Phillips MD, MPH,

    1. Kenneth R. Conner, Yeates Conwell, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, USA; Kenneth R. Conner, VA VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Canandaigua, NY, USA; Annette L. Beautrais, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; David A. Brent, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; David A. Brent, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Michael R. Phillips, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China; Michael R. Phillips, WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, Beijing Hua Long Guan Hospital, Beijing, China; and Barbara Schneider, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
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  • Barbara Schneider MD, MSc

    1. Kenneth R. Conner, Yeates Conwell, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, USA; Kenneth R. Conner, VA VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention, Canandaigua, NY, USA; Annette L. Beautrais, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA; David A. Brent, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; David A. Brent, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Michael R. Phillips, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China; Michael R. Phillips, WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, Beijing Hua Long Guan Hospital, Beijing, China; and Barbara Schneider, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
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Address correspondence to Kenneth R. Conner, Department of Psychiatry, 300 Crittenden Blvd, Rochester, NY 14642, USA; E-mail: kenneth_conner@urmc.rochester.edu

Abstract

The psychological autopsy (PA) is a systematic method to understand the psychological and contextual circumstances preceding suicide. The method requires interviews with one or more proxy respondents (i.e., informants) of decedents. The methodological challenges that need to be addressed when determining the content of these research interviews for PA studies are described and recommendations are made for meeting these challenges in future PA investigations. Ways to improve the data collected about mental disorders and life events—domains that are assessed in almost all PA studies—are discussed at length. Other understudied content areas considered include the role of personality traits, medical illness and functional limitations, availability of lethal agents, medications, and select distal variables including child maltreatment and family history of mental disorders and suicide. The benefits and challenges to using common protocols across studies are also discussed.

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