what is the protocol for adding that a deceased person is by suicide?

+7 votes
I have two profiles of family members, that have committed suicide.  Though sad, and concerning it did happen and is part of the story.  I have added it to a profile of Holthoefer-11.  Just wondering other researchers take on it.  A cousin did not want to add it for a member in the Holthoefer book. It showed a bad light on the family.
in Genealogy Help by Helen Holt G2G2 (2.9k points)

I have two gr-gr (etc) uncles who commit suicide. They were brothers. They did not live in the same city, and I often wondered if the second knew about the suicide of the other:



4 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer
If 1st degree relatives are living (parents, children, spouse), I'd be sensitive about adding it.  However, I personally would want to know if a grandparent or great-aunt or uncle had ended his/her own life, esp. if both are on the same line.  It may be important to watch for signs of depression.  Mental illness runs in families.  To pretend it doesn't exist means it might go untreated.
by Kathy Rabenstein G2G6 Pilot (177k points)
selected by Helen Holt
The information about the nature of the death could be added to the biography text as a comment.  This would preserve the sensitive information for the future but prevent it from being seen by the casual user or search bots.

To make part of the text a comment, put the four characters <!-- before the comment and the three characters --> after the comment.  For example:

Horacius Grubstake died on February 29, 1900.  <!-- Horacius's death was determined to be a suicide.  He had been suffering from severe depression after the untimely death of his only child, and hung himself in the barn. -->

The comment can be converted to regular text in the future when the information is no longer considered to be sensitive.
+11 votes
Hi Helen.  The direct answer is that I don't think we have any particular protocol.  You're on your own to figure out how best to handle it.  FWIW, I also have two such cases, neither a direct ancestor.  One was a U.S. Civil War veteran who committed suicide in the early 1900s.  There probably are descendants, but I went ahead and entered the info I could find about that one.  To my surprise I got a 'Thank You' for that profile shortly afterward from an unknown reader at an IP address.  The other was the grandmother of several living cousins.  I did not include that info here, since I didn't know if the cousins were aware of it and thought I should check first.  (I have, and they're OK with it.)  I think it's normally OK to include factual data in profiles, but as Kathy says, you need to be somewhat sensitive to the feelings of close relatives still living.  I don't really believe that it casts a bad light on a family -- each of us has our own issues to deal with in whatever way we find best.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (300k points)
+3 votes

This is a very sensitive subject, there have been several cases of suicide in spouses family. I agree that watching for signs of depression are very important, but asking immediate family members about using the information is just as important. So for those who have this issue to deal with please do it with care and respect.
by Dean Anderson G2G6 Pilot (259k points)
+4 votes
Sometimes posting the source is all you need to do. I have one profile, where the death certificate describes the cause of death and the local newspaper had a long article on the incident, since the subject was a well known figure in the community.
by Daniel Bly G2G6 Mach 3 (31.7k points)
This is approach I have used for a number of sensitive situations, with no comment about it, on their profile.

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