Kevin Ward, PsyD, is a 2009 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

  • Liang Tien, Psy. D. (Committee Chair)
  • Patricia Linn, Ph.D. (Committee Member)
  • Daniel Clark, Ph.D. (Committee Member)


death investigation, psychological autopsy, youth suicide

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Suicide is the thirteenth leading manner of death worldwide and eleventh in the United States. Approximately one percent of the U.S. population dies by suicidal means. On average, more than 30,000 people will kill themselves each year. This qualitative research study sought to explore and describe the experiences of how one family suffered and survived the unexpected loss of their thirteen-year-old son suspected of dying by suicidal means and how psychological autopsies might help survivors in dealing with this loss. Secondarily, the results also examined death investigation practices in one county of Washington State that uses psychological autopsies and how their use might broaden our understanding of teen suicide and survivorship. Analysis revealed eight topical areas of death investigation pursuant to determining the manner of death in the question of a completed suicide. From this medical-legal forensic structure of death investigation, psychological autopsy information was used to explore and describe in rich detail the family's experience of the loss of their son. The implications of this study accentuated the use of psychological autopsy information and its role in helping to facilitate the healing process for survivors of suicide.

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