Is it appropriate to post inquest results for a suicide?

+7 votes
One of my many 2 x grt aunts drowned herself in 1911 after accidentally suffocating her youngest child by rolling over on her in bed.

The inquest report is a very good example of how the local people lived at that time

I have deliberately not included the Wiki ID on this question.

I will abide by the views of WikiTree members
in Policy and Style by M Ross G2G6 Pilot (333k points)
I’ve had a number of these which I have found in newspaper reports. I tend to just use a “passed away in 1911” statement and provide a link to the newspaper report so interested people can make their own judgement. Could you link to the inquest report?
No I can't post a link for the inquest report, it was provided by my second cousin, same generation as I am.

Could I create a edited transcript? As a word doc or pdf
Yes, I did this for a legal document and attached it to a profile. I understand your reticence - I remember being shocked to read the inquest report of my great grandfather. His medical history is not mentioned on his profile directly.

7 Answers

+8 votes
Two times great aunt. Sounds like she's been deceased for a long time. I don't think its inappropriate. If she were recently deceased, I would avoid posting something like this, though.
by Richard Kozeny G2G1 (1.2k points)
+9 votes
I agree with Richard that if it was a long time ago then it is probbly OK and gives some good insight as to the life conditions back then.  But you could be quite young or old.  What was the date of the tragedy?
by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
August 1911
110 years I think is enough time that you could discuss these records - unless any of her grandkids are alive and might object.  So sad that she died when she still had other children alive.
+5 votes
I would post it. A lot comes from 'how you describe' things that happened. It reads like a real tragedy and maybe it honors her life by a gentle description.

Also the time frame seems long enough (110 years ago).
by Michel Vorenhout G2G6 Pilot (245k points)
+5 votes

I think it could be appropriate to add this information, given that it occurred 109 years ago.  

If there is a lot of information from the inquest, you could consider providing the information in a Freespace profile linked to her biography, so that people could choose whether or not they read it.

The factors to take into account, in my opinion, are:

  • The possible feelings of any surviving family (likely, by now, to be grandchildren), whether known to you or strangers;
  • Whether the information can be presented in a format which is sensitive to the individual and your readers’ sensibilities;
  • The value of the information you have for future historians;
  • Whether the information might be lost if you do not record it;
  • Whether the suicide was widely reported or known about at the time (ie. if it was ‘public knowledge’ in the local area).

I have several suicides in my family lines.  Generally, I don’t refer to suicide if they are likely to have surviving family from the next generation, but I will record it (sensitively) if the suicide is further back in time.

by David Dobie G2G5 (5.8k points)
+2 votes
To M Ross,  I am touched by your question,the comments, and the answers. On first thought, I think of my ancestors as doing well.....and think that is what they would wish.....however.....there have been "tragedies", one recently, of which a note was left, (might help with understanding) and I recently heard of a gg uncle who shot himself with a rifle, but don't know if the reason is available to me. Now, as explained to me by my parents when I was old enough to understand (abt.5yrs.), my grand father,two years before my birth and suffering from prostate cancer, went out to the wood shed, and unannounced to his wife, shot himself with a rifle. Over the years I thought he must have been brave, but that didn't answer the affect it had on my grand mother......she wore black and a veil,when she went out in public, 'til she was 104. As I am writing this ,it came to me,  he was struggling with what was best for his wife.......a no win situation. With the wisdom they imparted to us, a computer and WikiTree we will honour their memories with our best judgement.   Jack
by John Thompson G2G6 Pilot (217k points)
edited by John Thompson
+3 votes
This story actually gets worse, I hadn't done much research on the rest of the family before looking for possible grandchildren.

There were a total of 7 children, only 2 of whom survived to adulthood, Alice 1902-2000 and Bertha 1904-1991, they were the oldest children. It looks like there maybe 2 great grandchildren, grandchildren of Bertha, children of her daughter, with no last name available.

The other 5 died very young, Anne 1905-1905, Mary 1906-1915, Charles 1907-1908, John 1909-1914, plus Elizabeth the child described above died at 7 months

I am still undecided
by M Ross G2G6 Pilot (333k points)
Hi M.  I agree with the other answers that enough time has elapsed, and there's no damage done by saying there was a suicide.  But I'm curious about your comment in the question that the inquest report is a very good example of how the local people lived at that time.  Is there something more sinister in the report than just revealing a suicide that is making you hesitant?
No, not really, there is discussion of how difficult the family's life was:

The parents had an argument the day of the deaths, because the mother had been unable to pay the pawnbroker to get his suit back, it seems from the report that she had what is now called postpartum depression, and was drinking, they had very little money and probably had no chance at that time to improve their situation.

They lived in a tenement with 2 rooms downstairs and 2 up with 5 children and no indoor plumbing.

It is such a portrait of how life was for so many people living in heavily populated industrial England at that time. Her parents had left Ireland and moved to England due to the famine, it must have felt like things were never going to get better.

M .. I don't know if it helps or not, but this is how I wrote about a suicide :

Thankyou both, Melanie and M Ross.    Jack
+3 votes
In the profiles I have worked on, I don't recall death by suicide in a contemporary profile (post 1950 by my standards). Prior to that, I will note a suicide as a cause of death in the profile, but rarely include more detail unless it is included in the obituary. IMO, honesty (absent embellishment just to be shocking) honors the profiled subject. It may also help relatives/descendants who find the profiles. I am thinking of one family where the mother died (cause unknown) in early middle age. Three daughters  committed suicide at about the same age as their mother was when she died. I don't know for sure, but it seems plausible there was some mental illness in the family.
by Ellen Curnes G2G6 Mach 7 (79.3k points)

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