Can A Test Determine Suicide Risk?

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Should the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department have known that Philip Markoff, the so-called Craigslist killer, was a suicide risk?

That's what many law enforcement officials are debating after Markoff's jail cell suicide over the weekend.

Markoff, the Boston University medical student accused of murdering a masseuse in a Copley Square hotel in 2009, had been on suicide watch shortly after he was arrested for the crime but was removed from that status more than a year ago. He remained off suicide watch until he took his own life on Sunday.

Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral says Markoff showed no suicide warning signs. But could a simple computer test have revealed suicidal intentions that guards and a jail psychiatrist didn't see?

Matthew Nock says it might. Nock is a psychology professor at Harvard and he recently developed two short computerized exams that he says have high success at predicting when a person is at-risk of attempting suicide.


  • Matthew Nock, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

This program aired on August 17, 2010.


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