Coroner has ‘no regrets’ over suicide remarks

A coroner who claimed people who die by suicide do not think about the hurt and sorrow they leave behind has been reported to the Justice Department for his comments.

In an interview in today’s Irish Examiner, Kerry coroner Terence Casey said comments he made earlier this year, after suicide verdicts were returned in six out of eight inquests before his court, led to him being reported to the Department of Justice.

“There was one comment I passed, where I said that if only those who committed suicide could see what I see, the pain and the misery and the suffering left behind, they probably wouldn’t do it,” said Mr Casey.

“I’ve been reported to the Department of Justice for making comments like that. The department asked me for a report. I reported back and they accepted it, and that was that. But they still had to go through the procedures and investigate.”

In the past, Mr Casey has hit the headlines for claiming that tougher drink driving laws were responsible for an increase in suicides among older men.

Mr Casey said society was less inclined to examine the reasons why an older person might take their own life, while claiming that a lack of respect for their lives is one reason why younger people do it.

“Peer pressure has a lot to do with it,” said Mr Casey. “I think the lack of respect for one’s life is another thing. The lack of respect for one’s neighbour’s property, for one’s own property, for one’s own life, has gone downhill over the past 10, 15 years.”

He also said the removal of corporal punishment “was the downfall of a lot of things” and that there was a general lack of punishment in society.

“We no longer have the same respect for our neighbour,” said Mr Casey. “We don’t have the same respect for the gardaí. I think it’s something that has to be brought back — more respect for your life, your family...

“Personally, I think the day we got rid of corporal punishment, was the downfall of a lot of things. The respect for your neighbour’s property has gone out the door, since corporal punishment went out the door.

“We were afraid of getting a slap when we went to school. We were afraid of getting a beating from our parents if we did something wrong. That no longer happens. I don’t think you can blame parents or schools... There’s just a general lack of punishment.”

Mr Casey said that while his frankness on the subject of suicide had caused him trouble, he would continue to speak out.

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