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  • Publication
    Suicide in Dublin : II. the influence of some social and medical factors on coroners' verdicts
    (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1975) ; ;
    This paper presents an analysis of the factors which influence coroners in their decision to classify some deaths as suicides and others as accidental or 'open'. The most important influence on coroners' behaviour was seen to be the manner by which the person died. Those who died by cutting, hanging, drugs or gas were significantly more likely to receive a suicide verdict than those whose deaths were due to drowning, jumping, shooting or poisoning. If the deceased left any intimation of a suicidal intent, this increased the likelihood that a suicide verdict would be returned. Finally, persons aged under 40 were significantly more likely to be returned as suicides than older victims, especially those aged over 70. All of these results show that coroners operate by observing the law as it defines suicide, that is, by looking for evidence of intent of self-inflicted death. Our findings concerning the factors associated with the suicide verdict help to clarify the meaning of the official data on suicides in Ireland, and illuminate the reasons why, using clinical rather than legal criteria, a much higher rate is obtained.
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