Registry General & Coroner


Autopsy (Post-mortem)

In suicide cases a Coroner’s report and an autopsy is required to determine the cause of death and whether there were any contributing factors to the death such as other injuries, an existing physical condition, illness, or the presence of any drugs or alcohol. 

The body will be taken to King Edward VII Hospital where it will be examined by a pathologist. This process is usually completed within a few days and the body is then released to the funeral home selected by the next of kin. The funeral home will assist the family in all aspects of caring for the deceased and family needs.    


Registering the death

It is a legal requirement to register all deaths in Bermuda with the Registry General, which then issues a death certificate. In suicide cases, a death certificate cannot be issued until an autopsy has been carried out and the Senior Coroner notified of the preliminary cause of death. The Senior Coroner will notify the Registry General and a death certificate is produced, which is collected by the funeral home. Further copies can be obtained from the Registry General. 

The preliminary cause of death will state the manner of death (i.e. hanging, shooting), but not that it was a suicide. Only the Coroner's report (see below) will conclude whether or not the death was by suicide. The Coroner may, after receiving the evidence in the Police report, change the cause of death on the death certificate but this is extremely rare.


Role of the Coroner

Bermuda’s Senior Magistrate is also the Senior Coroner. It is the duty of the Coroner to investigate sudden or unnatural deaths. 

Once the Police investigation is concluded and the final report completed, it is forwarded to the Coroner’s office. The Coroner’s duty is limited to establishing “how”, “when” and “where” an individual came to their death.  It is not the responsibility of the police or of the Coroner to inquire into each and every possible factual detail, unless it is relevant or pertinent to the overriding duty of establishing “how” the deceased came to their death.

It is not normal for a public inquest to be held into a suicide in Bermuda unless requested by the Senior Coroner in cases where the cause of death is not conclusive. 

Neither the Coroner’s Report nor the Police Report are public documents and are not automatically released to the next of kin. You must apply to the Coroner in writing once you have been informed by the Coroner’s Office that the report has been concluded. 


Managing expectations

It is not unusual for unanswered questions to arise after a suicide investigation is completed. Understandably, the inevitable pressing question by family members and loved ones in an effort to find some sort of closure is “why?”  This question is especially difficult to answer when there are no known signs leading up to the death or where no explanation has been left behind by the loved one.

Even in a straightforward suicide case, the final Police and Coroner’s reports can take six months or more. It is best to stay in touch with the investigating officer or Family Liaison Officer who should be able to give you an idea of a timeframe.  


What if the suicide happens overseas?
 
A Bermudian suicide overseas will not be investigated by the Bermuda Police Service, neither will it be registered with the Registry General in Bermuda. The investigation, registration of death, coroner’s report and inquest (if required) will be carried out by the authorities of the country where the death took place. If the person died on a foreign ship or aircraft, the death must be registered in the country where the ship or aircraft is registered.



USEFUL ADDRESSES

Registry General
Government Administration Building, 1st floor
30 Parliament Street
Hamilton HM 12
Phone: (441) 297-7739
 www.gov.bm/birth-and-death-registration​


Coroner’s Office
Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building,
58 Court Street,
Hamilton HM 12
Phone: 247-1356