This course is an overview course in the investigation of suicide and self-harm death. The course is specifically designed for patrol officers, investigators, and coroners who have the duties of responding to and/ or investigating a death. Specific causes of suicide deaths covered are self-inflicted gunshot wounds, hanging and asphyxia deaths, drug overdose, Helium inhalation deaths, planned and assisted suicides.


This course is approved for continuing education credits by Missouri POST, American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI) 

Who Should Attend This Course

  • Law Enforcement Patrol Officers
  • Law Enforcement Investigators
  • Coroner
  • Medicolegal Death Investigators
  • Private Legal Investigators

Course Summary

WARNING:  This course does contain graphic images of actual death scenes,  many are graphic and may be disturbing. Register only if you understand you will be viewing nudity and graphic death images.

This course is an advanced overview course in the investigation of suicide and self-harm death. The course is specifically designed for patrol officers, investigators, and coroners who have the duties of responding to and/ or investigating a death.

The course assumes the students basic understanding of a crime scene and evidence collection methods. It goes beyond the preliminary death scene and targets what suicide deaths are and what they are not. It also gives insight into the mental aspect of suicide and self-harm behaviors. Participants will learn how to evaluate a scene, obtain evidence specific to making a determination of suicide, as well as how to properly document the scene and obtain vital victim history information and family statements.

Suicide is the act or instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years and a sound mind. However, a ruling of suicide by investigators can carry with it implications such as family denial, the stigma that comes with suicide, and insurance issues. So an investigators report must be complete and detail how a ruling of suicide was reached.

To properly investigate any death, and especially a death thought to be suicide, the investigator must employee the three elements of the investigative triangle which are; the scene, the body, and victim history. The investigator must keep in mind that it is common for scenes to be altered in an attempt to disguise the death as non-suicidal. But, the investigator must understand the most important and valuable evidence in any death scene is the body.

This course will cover specific causes of suicide deaths such as self-inflicted gunshot wounds; which are the most common form of suicide in the United States, and that percussion injuries are common in these cases and are caused from the introduction of gases into confined spaces. Also covered in this course is drug overdose deaths, which may be ruled; accidental, homicide, or suicide and only a complete investigation will determine the true manner of death. Common in overdose cases is evidence of a froth cone from the nose and mouth, this ‘cone’ is a by-product of edema in the lungs. Another area covered in this course is hanging and asphyxia deaths. It is important for the investigator to know that most hanging deaths do not occur from a full suspension position. Other self-harm deaths covered in this course are   Helium inhalation deaths, as well as planned and assisted suicides.

Students will learn the best practices and standards for investigating suicides and self-harm deaths. This course is not intended to set department policy but rather focuses on generally approved methods of criminal investigations as it applies to a death scene involving the possibility of suicide and self-harm.

This is an online video training and is designed to be interactive with students by random quizzes and a final exam. Student login and time is tracked per student to verify time spent in the course if needed.   Testing cannot be done until videos are watched. Each video has a unique symbol or picture that will appear prominently in the video and is part of the test questions, this will ensure the video has been watched. Certificates will only be available for print after successful completion of the final exam and the course evaluation.

Each certificate will indicate that it was an online training and will note the post control number and the CLEE hours given.

Course Objectives

After completing this course of instruction, participants will be better equipped to:

  1. Define Suicide
  2. List the three implications facing investigators in ruling a death as a suicide
  3. Identify and list the three elements of the investigative triangle.
  4. Explain why it is important to look for signs of alterations at the scene.
  5. Explain the most important evidence at any death scene.
  6. Properly explain that Gun Shot injuries are the most common form of suicide.
  7. Explain how percussion injuries are caused by gunshot injuries.
  8. List the three manners of death that could result from a drug overdose.
  9. Explain what causes a “froth come” in overdose deaths.
  10. Explain that the most common form of hanging death is not from full suspension.