Classifications are as follows:
NATURAL: A deaths primarily resulting from a natural disease of the body or known complication thereof; or known complication of treatment for the disease and not resulting from injuries or abnormal environmental factors.
ACCIDENTIAL: A death is accidental if it is due to an occurrence, incident or event that happens without foresight or expectation. An accidental death is caused by an external factor, where death or harm was not foreseen or expected.
This classification covers all accidental deaths including motor vehicle incidents where there is no obvious intent to cause death. This classification includes any death resulting from an action or actions by a person that results in the unintentional death.
SUICIDE: A death is a suicide if it results from an intentional act of a person knowing the probable consequence of what he/she is about to do-that is the commission or omission of act that results in his/her own death.
There is to be a presumption against suicide at the outset, and there must be sufficient clear and convincing evidence of a non-accidental action, initiated by the deceased, that led to the death.
Suicide is a finding of fact, not of law or morality. A finding of suicide does not imply agreement with, or understanding of the decision of the deceased.
HOMICIDE: A death is a homicide if it resulted from the “action of a human being killing another human being”.
The action must be non-accidental and originates from a person other than the deceased. A finding of homicide in the coroners system is a finding of fact and does not carry with it a determination of guilt. It is however, a serious finding and should be made only on clear and convincing evidence of a non-accidental action of a person that led to the death of another person.
UNDETERMINED: A death is classified as undetermined if: a full investigation has shown no evidence for any specific classification; or there is equal evidence or a significant contest among two or more classifications; or the death is an apparent suicide of a child under the age of 10.
A finding of” undetermined” may be a positive and appropriate finding, after a full investigation and careful consideration of all the evidence. It should not be considered a failure to reach a conclusion.
Any death which cannot be classified in any of the categories. The actual cause of death may or may not be known in these cases. An example of an undetermined death would be a drug overdose where it is unclear if the victim intended to die.
Coroners are instructed to make every effort to classify a death in one of the other existing categories before considering a classification of undetermined.