In this chapter I want to examine a series of factors which seemed in the light of our early enquiries to be important in leading coroners to a suicide verdict. Data is used from a variety of different sources, which include my initial contacts with coroners prior to the failure reported in the previous chapter, attendance at inquests in three different towns, and participant observation with a coroner’s officer.1 To have reported in detail on any one or all of these research endeavours would have been to write several books and for present purposes it will be enough to attempt some preliminary interpretations of the data, and to consider their implications for suicide research and for the subsequent research reported in Chapter 7. The following is based closely on the analysis presented in an already published paper, though some additional empirical materials are included which hopefully will provide added support for some of the contentions made in that earlier version.2
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- 2.J. M. Atkinson, ‘Societal Reactions to Suicide: The Role of Coroners’ Definitions’, in S. Cohen (Ed.), 1971, pp. 165–181. The difficulties of writing the research after parts had been published, which were referred to in the introduction, were particularly acute in this present chapter. The published version would not, in its entirety, have ‘fitted’ given some of the arguments presented in earlier chapters, yet some of the discussion and findings seemed worth repeating at this point in the book. It was also the case that the previously published version dealt with preliminary conclusions based on relatively little evidence. In preparing this chapter, therefore, I have kept parts of the original evidence and discussion, which are mainly presented in quotes and have added more empirical evidence in support of the original arguments.Google Scholar