Suicide, statistics and the coroner: A comparative study of death investigations

Tait, Gordon, Carpenter, Belinda, & (2015) Suicide, statistics and the coroner: A comparative study of death investigations. Journal of Sociology, 51(3), pp. 553-565.

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Australia has a significantly higher suicide rate than England. Rather than accepting that this ‘statistical fact’ is a direct reflection of some positivist truth, this paper begins with the premise that how suicide is counted depends upon what counts as suicide. This study involves semi-structured interviews with coroners both in Australia and England, as well as observations at inquests. Important differences between the two coronial systems include: first, quite different logics of operation; second, the burden of proof for reaching a finding of suicide is significantly higher in England; and third, the presence of family members at English inquests results in far greater pressure being brought to bear upon coroners. These combined factors result in a reduced likelihood of English coroners reaching a finding of suicide. The conclusions are twofold. First, this research supports existing criticisms of comparative suicide statistics. Second, this research adds theoretical weight to criticisms of positivist analyses of social phenomena.

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ID Code: 78699
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Suicide, Coroner, Inquests, Therapeutic jurisprudence
DOI: 10.1177/1440783314550058
ISSN: 1741-2978
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200) > Courts and Sentencing (160203)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology not elsewhere classified (160899)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
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 2014 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 16 Nov 2014 23:37
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015 01:51

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