SUDEP refers to the unexpected death of an individual, with a diagnosis of epilepsy, who dies suddenly, in benign circumstances, without a structural or toxicological cause for death being found at autopsy.

It is not a condition or disease, but rather the category to which these types of unexplained deaths are assigned.

Sudden, unexpected, witnessed or unwitnessed, nontraumatic and nondrowning death in patients with epilepsy, with or without evidence for a seizure and excluding documented status epilepticus, in which postmortem examination does not reveal a toxicologic or anatomic cause for death.”  

SUDEP definition per Nashef 1997

For more detailed information about the definition of SUDEP and its classification, read Nashef et al, 2012 ...


General information about SUDEP for:

  • people with epilepsy
  • parents & caregivers of children with epilepsy
  • young adults and teens with epilepsy
  • people bereaved by epilepsy; and
  • healthcare providers
is freely available in English, French & Spanish, and downloadable from: SUDEP eBrochures/fact sheets.