Problems with the coronial determination of ‘suicide’
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After over 100 years of constant dissatisfaction with the accuracy of suicide data, this paper suggests that the problem may actually lie with the category of suicide itself. In almost all previous research, ‘suicide’ is taken to be a self-evidently valid category of death, not an object of study in its own right. Instead, the focus in this paper is upon the presupposition that how a social fact like suicide is counted depends upon norms for its governmental regulation, leading to a reciprocal relationship between social norms and statistical norms. Since this relationship is centred almost entirely in the coroner’s office, this paper examines governmental, definitional and categorisational issues relating to how coroners reach findings of suicide. The intention of this paper is to contribute to international debates over how suicide can best be conceptualised and adjudged.
Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified