A few days before this on 8 May 2019, the Guardian published a Press Association (PA) report headed "Keith Flint: not enough evidence for suicide verdict". In this case the deceased was a 'celebrity' singer found hanged, having consumed cocaine, alcohol and codeine. The senior coroner for Essex (England) Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded an open verdict. She was reported by PA to have concluded as follows: "I've considered suicide. To record that I would have had to have found that, on the balance of probabilities, Mr Flint formed the idea and took deliberate action knowing it would result in his death. Having regard to all the circumstances, I don't find there is enough evidence for that." Beasley-Murray also ruled out death by accident where Mr Flint 'may have been been larking around and it all went horribly wrong'. She further commented (PA reported): 'We will never quite know what was going on in his mind on that date and so that's why I am going to record an open conclusion'. PA reports that police found 'no suspicious circumstances', nor any third party involvement. The late Mr Flint's family did not attend the inquest and no witnesses were called to give evidence in person. I have no access to any written evidence available to the coroner. Other than postmortem evidence, no mention was made of a psychological autopsy being carried out, although such investigations are believed, rightly or wrongly, to be standard procedure before any inquest takes place into a death where suicide is considered a possibility.
I have been pondering the meanings implicit in the word 'intention' with regard to both of the above mentioned unfortunate deaths of Mr Maughan and Mr Flint. This takes us to 'motivation' which clearly precedes 'intention'. What motivates, i.e. drives or energises an intended, i.e. planned action? In neither of the above reported fatal cases, was that key question posed, considered or answered. If either of these men were suspected of being murdered, i.e. evidence existed of third party involvement, the suspected but unknown killers' motivation would be a vital area of interest for the criminal justice process. But context is everything. Suicide is not understood to be self-murder despite the near equivalence of meaning of each term. Murders are never over for those bereaved by such a horror, even when the culprit killer/s is identified, prosecuted and incarcerated. Similarly, survivors of bereavement by suicide are 'changed, changed utterly' and crushingly, by sudden, serious, unanticipated, total loss. Yet the resources deployed in investigating suicide are minuscule, while unlimited criminal justice energy and expertise is available in relation to murder.