'I may as well die as go to the gallows': Murder-Suicide in Queensland, 1890-1940
Anything we can learn about murder-suicides that can aid comprehension of these rare occurrences is worthwhile. As Rosemary Gartner and Bill McCarthy demonstrate in their contribution to this volume, abundant research initiatives have applied quantitative methods and assembled remarkable data sets to make sense of these disturbing cases, which so often involve attacks of men on women. There are certainly patterns in the gender of assailants and victims that remain consistent across a number of English-speaking jurisdictions. However, the act of forming data sets from scratch, in order to study a notoriously difficult topic such as murder-suicide, can lead· to scepticism about the depth of understanding that is achievable through quantification. Faith in numbers has had a good run, but we should occasionally look deeper and as Gartner and .McCarthy have done, read the documents and newspaper stories that supplied the numbers. When cases must be assigned to categories for analysis, problems intervene. Silences in the primary sources may frustrate efforts to reach understanding, although challenging too is the task of sorting through layers within a well-documented incident. With the complication·of multiplicity especially in mind, this probe of murder-suicides emphasizes the value of qualitative information and appeals for a decomposition of categories and more discussion of cases within quantified studies. This entreaty originates from a respectful understanding of quantification, since statistics have produced the subject's important core observations, some of which are repeated and affirmed in this account.
Histories of Suicide: International Perspectives on Self-Destruction in the Modern World
Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)