Coroner - Coroner To infer cause of death, common-sense...

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Coroner To infer cause of death, common-sense indicators are used: Was a suicide note found? What was the mode of death? Hanging? Car crash? Asphyxiation in car? Etc. Evidence of relatives: Was victim "depressed"? Was victim "worried"? Was victim under some form of stress? The history of the victim: Had this person attempted suicide before? Did victim have emotional / financial problems? Did victim have incurable disease? All of the above factors relate in some way to the victim, and all involve some form of value judgement about such things as: Whether or not death by hanging is more suspicious than death in a car crash. The qualifications relatives have for determining such psychological concepts as "depression". The state of the victim's mind concerning possible financial / emotional "problems". In addition, a further set of considerations have to be taken into account. .. If the victim has left relatives, the position becomes even more complicated, since the coroner has, implicitly, to consider the likely effect upon them of a suicide verdict. For example: If the victim and his / her family were Catholics, since the Catholic Church views suicide as "self-murder" (that is, as a sin), the coroner may well make reference to the likely consequences of his / her decision upon the victim's relatives. In this respect, it is evident that coroners in Catholic countries are more-reluctant to classify a suspicious death as suicide than coroners in non-Catholic countries. ..
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In countries where suicide is classified as a criminal offence (as it was it Britain until 1961), the "victims" of such a classification would be the relatives who remain alive (especially the deceased's immediate family). In such countries, coroners tend to be more-reluctant to classify a death as suicide than in countries where such a law does not apply. In addition, where the victim was insured against death, coroners tend to be less likely to classify death as suicide (unless there is over-whelming evidence to the contrary) than in instances where no financial considerations are evident. Finally, whilst some officials involved in the determination of suicide are very thorough in the collection of evidence, others are more-concerned about not intruding upon the rights / feelings of relatives. Using the death of the publisher Robert Maxwell as an example, what kind of problems might have
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2012 for the course SCIE SYG2000 taught by Professor Bernhardt during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Coroner - Coroner To infer cause of death, common-sense...

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