38 CFR § 3.302 - Service connection for mental unsoundness in suicide.

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§ 3.302 Service connection for mental unsoundness in suicide.

(a) General.

(1) In order for suicide to constitute willful misconduct, the act of self-destruction must be intentional.

(2) A person of unsound mind is incapable of forming an intent (mens rea, or guilty mind, which is an essential element of crime or willful misconduct).

(3) It is a constant requirement for favorable action that the precipitating mental unsoundness be service connected.

(b) Evidence of mental condition.

(1) Whether a person, at the time of suicide, was so unsound mentally that he or she did not realize the consequence of such an act, or was unable to resist such impulse is a question to be determined in each individual case, based on all available lay and medical evidence pertaining to his or her mental condition at the time of suicide.

(2) The act of suicide or a bona fide attempt is considered to be evidence of mental unsoundness. Therefore, where no reasonable adequate motive for suicide is shown by the evidence, the act will be considered to have resulted from mental unsoundness.

(3) A reasonable adequate motive for suicide may be established by affirmative evidence showing circumstances which could lead a rational person to self-destruction.

(c) Evaluation of evidence.

(1) Affirmative evidence is necessary to justify reversal of service department findings of mental unsoundness where Department of Veterans Affairs criteria do not otherwise warrant contrary findings.

(2) In all instances any reasonable doubt should be resolved favorably to support a finding of service connection (see § 3.102).

Cross Reference:

Cause of death. See § 3.312.

[28 FR 183, Jan. 8, 1963, as amended at 54 FR 31951, Aug. 3, 1989; 55 FR 13530, Apr. 11, 1990]