Death from Natural Causes

Death from natural causes – unexplained sudden death

In the UK, unexplained sudden death is frequently recorded as due to death from natural causes. Experts believe that most of these deaths are due to Sudden Death Syndrome or Sudden Cardiac Death. Until the law is changed and coroners have to refer hearts on to specialists we will not know the true figures.

Any death of which the cause is not immediately known has to – by law – be reported to the Coroner. This is in addition to deaths that are due to non-natural causes. About one third of all deaths are reported to the Coroner

If it can be established, clearly and reasonably quickly, that the death is not due to some non-natural causes or outside influence (such as injury, drugs, poisoning, etc) but is due to a cause, however unexpected or rare, that arises from spontaneously occurring physiology, then the death will be certified by the Coroner as due to natural causes. That cause will be stated and documents will be issued to enable the death to be registered and the funeral to go ahead.

Such deaths are classified as death from natural causes. Yet to bereaved families, there can seem to be nothing less natural than to lose an active young person in this way. Frequently there have been no apparent symptoms. Usually the young person will have died whilst engaged in some perfectly normal activity – eating, drinking, taking exercise or in their sleep.

The death of a child or young adult is so totally out of order with the sequence of life that it can have devastating consequences within the family, and also the wider community.

With sudden death syndrome or sudden cardiac death not only has there been no preparation for such a death (as in terminal illness), but nor is the death accidental – when there is an obvious and direct link between an occurrence and the tragic consequences. This can lead to those closest to the one that has died blaming themselves for overlooking possible symptoms. Dealing with their terrible loss is then compounded by feelings of guilt. See the counselling section for more on this.

Sharing the way you feel about what has happened is very important. It is not always easy to do this with others. CRY has a network of individuals who have suffered a tragedy, and subsequently passed the CRY BAC accredited Counselling Skills and Theory course in order to try and help others cope with their experiences of losing a young friend or relative to sudden cardiac death.