J Forensic Sci,
Mar. 2005, Vol. 50, No. 2
Paper ID JFS2004347
Available online at: www.astm.org
Thomas W. Young,
M.D.; Suzanna E. Wooden,
B.A.; Paul C. Dew,
Gerald L. Hoff,
Ph.D.; and Jinwen Cai,
The Richard Cory Phenomenon: Suicide
and Wealth in Kansas City, Missouri
This case-control study investigates the relationship between suicide and wealth in Kansas City, Missouri. House and personal
property appraisal data on all victims of suicide from 1998 and 2002 and victims from a control population of deaths reported to the Jackson County
Medical Examiner during the same time interval were obtained from the Jackson County Government website. The controls were matched to suicide
cases by race, gender, year of death, and age at death (
1 year). Data from the 426 members of each group of suicides and controls indicate that
suicide victims were: 1) 77% more likely than controls to have lived in houses rather than in apartments or trailers, 2) more likely than controls
to have lived in more expensive houses (mean values $70,143 versus $61,513 respectively,
04) and 3) more likely to have killed themselves
because of factors other than ±nancial strain (8.0% of suicides showed ±nancial strain).
forensic science, death investigation, suicide, wealth, case-control study
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he ²uttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace;
In ±ne we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head (1).
Richard Cory, the mythical man of wealth and re±nement made
famous by Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem, is the envy of all who
know him, particularly those who struggle to eke out a miserable
existence. His story comes to an abrupt, surprising conclusion when
Jackson County Medical Examiner, 660 East Twenty Fourth Street, Kansas
City, MO 64108.
University of Missouri—Kansas City School of Medicine, 2411 Holmes
Street, Kansas City, MO 64108.
Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, 1750 Independence
Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64106.
Kansas City Missouri Health Department, 2400 Troost Avenue, Kansas
City, MO 64108.
Presented orally at the 56th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of
Forensic Sciences, Dallas, TX, February, 2004.