A timeline is essential in piecing together the last months, weeks, and days preceding death. It is suggested to build a timeline 1-year preceding death and to work back words from the date of passing. Be sure to note any major life events. When developing a timeline, the idea is to look for key events or major life-changing events that may have impacted the decedent. These events may be things like job loss, dissolution of marriage or other relationship, or even a medical diagnosis. These types of events may seem extremely stressful and may leave little if any time to process them. They may seem abrupt and overwhelming. There may have been a sense that the individual was not able to “fix”, manage, or resolve the issues or circumstances. These events may have not been factual, but the individual may have perceived them to be or perceived them to be happening or possibly happening. When developing a timeline, it is essential to work backwards from the suicide.

Start with the day the individual passed away.

Day of Passing

  1. Why today?
  2. Is there any significance to this day, time, or place?
  3. Is this an anniversary of another event?
  4. Was there a major life event? (e.g., breakup, job loss, diagnosis, investigation, etc.)
  5. Was there a note(s)? If so, what does it reveal about possible motive or reason?

1-Week Preceding Death

  1. What were the Decedent’s normal daily activities and routines?
  2. Was there a noted change in these activities and routines? If so, what?
  3. Did the Decedent make final plans (e.g., Wills, funeral arrangements, give away personal or prized possessions)?
  4. Did others witness anything that troubled them? If so, what?
  5. What can be found on the computer, personal websites, social media, text messages, voicemails?

6-Months Preceding Death

  1. What events were occurring in the Decedent’s life?
  2. Were these positive or negative?
  3. How much stress was the Decedent under?
  4. What types of posts can you see on social media?
  5. Did the Decedent have life insurance? If so, when was it purchased?
  6. Were there any videos, content, posts, pictures that were troubling on social media or other sites?

1-Year Preceding Death – STARTING POINT