Bereavement due to suicide

Reactions to the verdict

At the end of the inquest hearing the coroner (or the jury if there is one) reaches a verdict (also see The Inquest’). Most of the people we talked to seemed satisfied with the verdict (see for example, comments made by Dave below), but others would have liked a different outcome. For example, one man felt a stigma attached to a verdict of 'suicide whilst the balance of the mind was disturbed' and would have preferred an 'open' verdict. He accepted the verdict of suicide but not the implication that his son’s mind was disturbed at the time. He said that suicide might even be seen as a brave act, and that we have no idea what was going on in his head.
Ted said that his mother was very unhappy about the inquest held after his father’s death in 1964. She blamed the doctor for her husband’s suicide, and she had “hated” the coroner because she thought that he blamed the family for what had happened. Ted said that at the time he also adopted his mother’s approach but later he did some research and obtained a record of what happened at the inquest hearing and decided that he could not agree with his mother. Ted does not think that the coroner blamed his mother or the family for the events that took place when he was twelve.
Some people were surprised at the length of the verdict on the death certificate or surprised that the word 'suicide' had not been mentioned. Others were upset by the coroner's words or language in the verdict.
A few people were dissatisfied because they felt that the inquest process had not helped to improve the standard of care available to those with mental health problems. Others were glad that the inquest process had at least exposed certain problems that might have contributed to their loved one’s suicide.
Useful information about the inquest process can be found on a website run by an organisation called INQUEST. It gives independent free legal and practical advice to bereaved families and friends about the inquest process. It offers specialist advice to lawyers, bereaved people, advice agencies, policy makers, the media and the public on contentious deaths and their investigation.

Last reviewed January 2015.

Last updated October 2012.


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