Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Death. Many attempts have been made to classify the modes in which death may occur. Of these the most celebrated is that of Bichat, who maintained that in all instances death may be referred to one of three categories - viz. death beginning at the head, death beginning at the heart, and death beginning at the lungs. Bichat's classification is, however, open to criticism in certain particulars. Death returns are in this country usually classified under five heads, as follows: Zymotic disease, including-such items as scarlet-fever, measles, etc.; constitutional disease - e.g. gout, phthisis; local disease, as for example apoplexy, bronchitis, Blight's disease, etc.; developmental disease, including such causes as premature birth and old age; and, lastly, violent deaths. Much might be written on the subject of the signs of death. It must suffice here to enumerate the chief of these, which are - cessation of the circulation as indicated by stoppage of the pulse-beat and absence of the heart-sounds; cessation of the movements of respiration; loss of body-heat; other matters which have great medico-legal importance, such as the condition of the eye, skin, and muscular system. (For further information concerning the last-named, see Rigor Mortis.)

Deaths, as well as births and marriages, must be registered. Where there has been no news of a person's existence for a term of seven years, and no explanation forthcoming, the law prima facie presumes that he is dead; but that presumption does not in any way fix the time of death, of which strict evidence must be given by the party who derives any interest thereby.