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January 1966

Comparative Psychiatric Study of Accidental and Suicidal Death

Author Affiliations

From the University of Southern California School of Medicine and the Suicide Prevention Center, Los Angeles (Drs. Tabachnick and Litman), and the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;14(1):60-68. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730070062008

THE RELATIONSHIP between accidental and suicidal death presents an insufficiently studied but fascinating problem.

A good deal of research has been accomplished into suicidal modes and suicidal deaths, and there has been a moderate amount of writing and research on nonlethal accidents. However, up to this time there has been relatively little research done on psychological aspects of accidental death.

Yet, the questions of how accidental deaths occur and how, if in any ways, these deaths relate to suicidal ones are, indeed, intriguing issues. To be sure, one opinion exists to the effect that accidents should be regarded as entirely "accidental"—that is, that in any given accident we are merely noting what must happen on occasion as a result of the unpredictable interplay of a number of forces.

However, this point of view would not be entirely acceptable to observers of social situations who would wish to study the

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