Suicide Patterning in Florida’s Medical Examiner District 1: Using Geospatial Data to Inform Forensic Recoveries of Suicide Scenes

Michaela Franklin, Elizabeth Barrett, Allysha Winburn, Anthropology, University of West Florida, 11000 University Parkway, Pensacola, Florida, 32514

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and is prevalent worldwide. Though there is no clear resolution to this deadly issue, any research into regional trends in suicide patterning could prove valuable to understanding its subtleties. Medical examiners and coroners compile records on deaths investigated within the medicolegal system, thus providing a resource for studying regional trends in where and how these deaths occur. Further, as medicolegal personnel are the people most frequently tasked with recovering and analyzing the human remains from these scenes, they stand to benefit from an enhanced knowledge of suicide scenes. In this study, we will collect data from the digital records of Florida’s District One Medical Examiner on all suicides investigated by that office over the course of the past ten years (estimated n=1400 cases), including: the location of the suicide scene (i.e., address or GPS coordinates); a qualitative description of the scene location (e.g., “within the home”); and the modality of the suicide (e.g., hanging). We will perform Geographic Information System (GIS) analyses of the geospatial data, producing a map of all suicide scene locations in Florida’s District One from 2009-2019. Geospatial patterns in suicide modalities, scene descriptions, and overall landscape, if identified, will be analyzed (e.g., clustering of particular types of suicide scenes in urban vs. rural locales). The resulting geospatial data on suicide scene patterning will have the potential to assist medicolegal personnel with the effective location and processing of future suicide scenes in the region of Pensacola, FL.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Michaela Franklin

Institution: University of West Florida

Type: Poster

Subject: Anthropology & Archeology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 1
Date/Time: Mon 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 2023