Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,
Why did you do it – choose to die?
Last week the Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, conducted nine inquests in one day. What he found deeply disturbing was that seven of the deaths were self-inflicted. He said “Seven deaths, all bunched together. It is very alarming – it is a terrible tragedy … ” Brian McDonald’s excellent article provides an unusual insight into the deaths that were deemed to be suicide.
The Coroner’s findings, while tragic, were not in fact unusual. In December 2011 another Coroner, this time in Wexford, performed inquests into the deaths of eight people. Again these inquests were all performed in one day – six were deemed to be suicide.
I would argue, taking lunchtime and tea breaks into consideration, exactly how much investigation goes into finding ‘who, when, where and how’ a person has died? Would approximately an hour for each individual serve to bring justice for his/her death, or provide answers for the families left behind? The opportunity to find the common denominator in both of these Coroner’s courts was sadly overlooked. If, in the 13 ‘deaths by suicide’ recorded by these two Coroners, there is no common denominator, then we will probably never reduce the suicide rate. The millions earned and spent on suicide prevention and ‘mental health’ in this country might as well be turfed into the Liffey. Be under no illusion, suicide generates a lot of money worldwide and that includes Ireland.
I suggest that answers will be found once bereaved families are asked to participate in suicide prevention. They could be asked to provide details of the deceased’s life, particularly of their final year. What events could explain their choice to die? Is it possible that Swedish medical writer Janne Larsson is correct, that the majority of suicide victims had been prescribed psychiatric drugs, known (despite the denial by Irish psychiatry) to double the risk of suicide? Is Declan Gilsenan (retired Irish Pathologist) right in saying that he believes that these drugs are causing suicides? He has said, of the last five autopsies he performed on suicide victims, 4 had been recently introduced to an ssri antidepressant. Is Professor David Healy (Irish psychopharmacologist and world-leading expert on these drugs) right when he says that these drugs are causing hundreds of Irish people to feel so desperate, that they choose death as the only way to escape the adverse effects of same?
One thing is for sure, one miserable hour is not going to get to the bottom of why a person chose death instead of life. Is 60 minutes of a Coroner’s attention all that the family’s beloved one was worth?
Is 60 minutes enough to determine whether akathisia played a part in a person’s demise? Nope, not a chance of it. It does beg the question though – if these inquests had a jury, along with a medical expert, would their deaths have been determined as suicide? Would the juries instead, as in my son’s inquest, have rejected a sucide verdict on account of the prescribed drug in his/her system? One thing is for sure, an hour to determine ‘who, when, where and how’ is, in my opinion, just adding insult to injury.