Suicide and the therapeutic coroner : inquests, governance and the grieving family

Tait, Gordon & Carpenter, Belinda J. (2013) Suicide and the therapeutic coroner : inquests, governance and the grieving family. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 2(3), pp. 92-104.

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This study of English Coronial practice raises a number of questions about the role played by the Coroner within contemporary governance. Following observations at over 20 inquests into possible suicides and in-depth interviews with six Coroners, three preliminary issue emerged, all of which pointed to a broader and, in many ways, more significant issue. These preliminary issues are concerned with:

(1) the existence of considerable slippages between different Coroners over which deaths are likely to be classified as suicide;

(2) the high standard of proof required and immense pressure faced by Coroners from family members at inquest to reach any verdict other than suicide, which significantly depresses likely suicide rates, and;

(3) Coroners feeling no professional obligation, either individually or collectively, to contribute to the production of consistent and useful social data regarding suicide, arguably rendering comparative suicide statistics relatively worthless.

These concerns lead, ultimately, to the second more important question about the role expected of Coroners within social governance and within an effective, contemporary democracy. That is, are Coroners the principal officers in the public administration of death; or are they, first and foremost, a crucial part of the grieving process, one that provides important therapeutic interventions into the mental and emotional health of the community?

Impact and interest:

3 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 66361
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: coroner, suicide, therapeutic jurisprudence
ISSN: 2202-7998
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200) > Courts and Sentencing (160203)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Statement: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Deposited On: 20 Jan 2014 22:57
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2015 04:24

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