Explanations for death by suicide in northern Britain during the long eighteenth century

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This article explores how professionals explicated and contextualised the deaths of their clients or subjects, delineated the relationship between madness and death, and advised and counselled families on the deaths of their mentally ill members. It uses coroners’ inquest findings, media such as newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and broadsides, and family correspondence (all drawn from Scotland and the north of England) as well as medical and legal writings to explore perceptions of the link between state of mind and voluntary death. It asks how doctors, families and ‘society’ at large conceptualized, responded to and coped with mental problems culminating in suicide. The aim is to square the apparent simplicity of measured professional understandings with the more emotionally charged yet complex ways those close to attempted or successful suicides related to their situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-64
Number of pages13
JournalHistory of Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Doctors
  • Insanity
  • Lawyers
  • Media
  • Medicalization
  • Medicine
  • Newspapers
  • Religion
  • Suicide
  • 18th century


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