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General Guidance for the Investigating Officer – Tips For Investigating Suicides And Suicide Attempts

The IO appointed to do a formal investigation will use DD Form 261, Report of Investigation–Line of Duty and Misconduct Status, and append appropriate statements and other documents to support his or her findings. The IO will gather all facts connected to the incident (military and civilian reports/documents, maps, diagrams and/or medical examination reports). The IO must ascertain dates, places, persons, and events definitely and accurately in order to provide the approving authority with an accurate understanding or “word picture” of the incident being investigated. The IO must ensure that the investigation contains enough pertinent information (direct and/or indirect evidence) to support the findings of fact and enable later reviews to be made without more information. Barring unusual circumstances, the investigation normally should be completed, legally reviewed, and acted upon by the approval authority within 75 days from the time of the incident.

Before beginning the investigation, the IO should: 1) obtain and carefully read a copy of Chap 3, paragraphs 3-3, 3-7, and 3-8 of AR 600-8-4 to review guidance on LD evidence gathering, presumptions and rules along with guidance contained in AR 15-6 for conducting an informal AR 15-6 investigation; and 2), contact the Administrative Law Section of the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate for guidance on the investigation as necessary.

Complete investigation and prepare report. Complete box to the right of DD Form 261, item 10. If the investigation involves a living Soldier who is not mentally incapacitated from the injuries sustained, consult with the legal advisor and follow guidance contained in AR 600-8-4 to notify the Soldier of contemplated proposed adverse findings, in writing by certified mail, and provide a copy of the investigation report (redacted where appropriate to comply with privacy Act requirements). The Soldier has 30 days to exercise rebuttal rights when an adverse finding is recommended. Consider any rebuttal submitted before making a final recommendation. Conclude and finalize the investigation after considering the rebuttal or if no response is received.

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