chapter  3
18 Pages

‘What it Means to See’: Reading Gender in Medical Examinations of Suicide

ByKatrina Jaworski

Examining the practices required for investigating suicide, Holmes and Holmes ask: ‘How does one determine whether a death is a suicide? … For example, does the death appear to be self-inflicted?’ (2005: 113). For Holmes and Holmes (2005), the post-mortem examination is crucial to verifying whether what appears as lethal is an actual cause of death. Typically carried out by a pathologist, this is how suicide is determined on medical grounds. My concern with seeing what appears as self-inflicted is not about disputing whether post-mortem practices should be part of verifying suicide. Nor is it about challenging specific science-based practices integral to the medical examination of deceased bodies. Instead, my concern is to do with an enduring understanding that the body exists as a neutral, autonomous, stable and visually mappable tableau for displaying suicidal intent.