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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 765; doi:10.3390/ijerph15040765

Coronial Practice, Indigeneity and Suicide

1
Faculty of Education, School of Cultural and Professional Learning, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia
2
Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia
3
Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 March 2018 / Revised: 11 April 2018 / Accepted: 10 April 2018 / Published: 16 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Suicide Research)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [280 KB, uploaded 16 April 2018]

Abstract

All available data suggest that, like many other Indigenous peoples, Australian Aborigines are significantly more likely to kill themselves than are non-Aboriginal Australians. This statistical disparity is normally positioned an objective, ontological and undeniable social fact, a fact best explained as a function of endemic community disadvantage and disenfranchisement. This research explores the possibility that higher-than-normal Aboriginal suicide rates may also be a function of coronial decision-making practices. Based upon in-depth interviews with 32 coroners from across Australia, the following conclusions emerged from the data. First, coroners have differing perceptions of Indigenous capacity, and are less likely to have concerns about intent when the suicide is committed by an Indigenous person. Second, coroners have identified divergent scripts of Indigenous suicide, particularly its spontaneity and public location, and this supports rather than challenges, a finding of suicide. Third, the coronial perception of Indigenous life is a factor which influences a suicide determination for Indigenous deaths. Finally, the low level of Indigenous engagement with the coronial system, and the unlikelihood of a challenge to the finding of suicide by Indigenous families, means that a coronial determination of suicide is more likely. View Full-Text
Keywords: suicide; indigenous suicide; aboriginal Australian; youth suicide; mental health; coroner; legal decision making suicide; indigenous suicide; aboriginal Australian; youth suicide; mental health; coroner; legal decision making
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Tait, G.; Carpenter, B.; Jowett, S. Coronial Practice, Indigeneity and Suicide. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 765.

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