Rishy Savin asked about a possible suicide and about records about a
Jewish suicide during the years 1910 to 1920. His relative had
connections to New York and Connecticut, and he hasn't found him in
Connecticut records yet.
He should obviously start (or continue) in New York by looking at the
New York City death indices and certificates in the Municipal Archives at
31 Chambers Street, and the N.Y. State death indices in the New York NARA
branch at 201 Varick Street. (Since he mentioned that there was a chance
that his relative ran off with another woman, he should look at the N.Y.C.
marriage indices and certificates in the Municipal Archives and the N.Y.S.
marriage indices at NARA, too.)
In addition, the N.Y.C. Municipal Archives has the records of the
Office of the N.Y.C. Medical Examiner. The medical examiner reviewed all
sorts of 'suspicious' deaths, including homicides, accidents, poisonings,
injuries, deaths related to pregnancy and surgery, and so on. Suicides
are in this category, too. The death certificate itself may be subtly
different than the usual one, and labelled a 'Medical Examiner Death
Unfortunately, I don't recall the exact year, but starting some time
well after 1920, a separate column called 'M.E. no.' appeared in the
N.Y.C. death indices. (The M.E. records started well before this column
existed; they're just not reflected in the indices of the older records.)
However, for the years in which this column appears, just because there's
an M.E. number doesn't mean that there will be an M.E. records for that
death, or that an autopsy was done. It just means that the physician
called the Office of the Medical Examiner about the case, for instance, if
the patient died under unknown circumstances. But if after a phone
conversation, it was decided that nothing suspicious occurred, the M.E.
office would have decided not to do anything else, and there would be no
There are frequently M.E. numbers for people who died outside of a
hospital, in an Emergency Room, or within 24 hours after being admitted to
a hospital. I think that it should be clear that if somebody died of a
heart attack in the street, the M.E. has no reason to get involved.
A happy Pesach again to everybody.
New York, N.Y.