The Isle of Wight’s recorded suicide rate looks likely to rise following a change in the law.
The High Court has ruled suicides should no longer be judged by the criminal standard of proof — an archaic standard dating back to a time suicide was illegal in the UK — but by the civil standard.
It means coroners will now return suicide conclusions based on the balance of probabilities, rather than beyond all reasonable doubt.
How it worked in the past
Previously, in order to return a conclusion of suicide, a coroner had to be satisfied someone had carried out the act that brought about their death, that no-one else was involved — and that they intended the consequences to be their own death.
To prove intention, a coroner would look for signs, such as a note. However, it was difficult to prove intention beyond all reasonable doubt.
Following the change in law, coroners need only to demonstrate it was more likely than not that someone intended to take their own life.
It means more deaths are likely to be recorded as suicides, providing a more accurate picture of how many people are taking their own lives.
Healy: “There is a lot of under-reporting”
Isle of Wight Youth Trust chief executive Mairead Healy welcomed the changes. She said:
“Currently there are lot of gaps in the data. My brother died from suicide, but his death was not recorded as a suicide and I think that happens a lot.
“The data shows the ones that are officially recorded but there are many more that are not. There is a lot of under-reporting.”
The following organisations offer free and confidential support over the phone:
- Samaritans —116 123 24 hour support, every day of the year www.samaritans.org
- Papyrus — 0800 068 41 41 Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 10pm or Text 0778 620 9697 – prevention of young suicide www.papyrus-uk.org
- Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) — 0800 58 58 58, 5pm – midnight. Dedicated to preventing male suicide www.thecalmzone.net
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. EdImage: Heather under CC BY 2.0