Psychological Autopsy

Psychological Autopsy



It is a part of forensic psychology.

Medical Autopsy Vs Psychological Autopsy

A physical or medical autopsy is generally a physical examination of the deceased in order to determine the ’cause’ of death.
On the other hand, psychological autopsy aims to understand the mental state the deceased was in.

What is psychological autopsy?

An attempt to determine what, if any, emotional or psychological factors caused or contributed to an individual’s suicide.
Psychological autopsy is one of the most valuable tools of research on completed suicide.
An autopsy that analyzes the cause(s) of death, examining the body and the circumstances–natural or unnatural that led to death; in the ‘usual’ death, a person suffers from a known set of morbid condition(s) and dies as a natural consequence of the terminal progression of those conditions; in ‘unnatural’ death–eg, homicide or suicide, determination of nosology is more difficult and requires analysis of circumstances preceding death; a Psychological Autopsy focuses on the decedent’s intentions relating to his own death, especially suicide.
The information may be personal information (any history of drug/alcohol abuse, known stresses, lifestyle, relationships, etc), biographical information (birth date, occupation, marital or relationship status), any secondary information (criminal record, family history), and information gathered by interviewing family members of the deceased.

The modern autopsy techniques also includes:-

Virtual Autopsy:

Virtual Autopsy or Virtopsy is a virtual alternative to a traditional autopsy, conducted with scanning and imaging technology.Virtual autopsies produce clear graphics so that organs and injuries can be viewed without obstruction from blood and other internal matter.

Verbal Autopsy:

Verbal autopsy is a research method that helps determine probable causes of death in cases where there was no medical record or formal medical attention given.

Digital Autopsy:

A digital autopsy is a non-invasive autopsy in which digital imaging technology, such as with Computerized Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, is used to develop three-dimensional images for a virtual exploration of a human body.

Some Notorious Psychological Autopsy Cases:-

  • Death of 11 family members at Burari, Delhi, India.
  • Sunanda Pushkar’s death case(Wife of Mr. Shashi Tharoor, MP Kerala), India.
  • Nithari Killings (death of 19 people) 2006 at U.P, India.