Sunday, 10 September 2017

Committing an Offence

No matter how often I think about it, the fact that suicide wasn’t decriminalised in England and Wales until 1961 never loses its power to shock. Barely believably, in a world of passenger jets, space exploration, television and pop music, one which in many ways appears not so different to our own, those who failed in an attempt to take their lives were still, at least theoretically, liable to prosecution and imprisonment.  Even if criminal proceedings were increasingly rare, hospital staff continued to meet their obligation to report cases of attempted suicide to the Police – and the Metropolitan Police’s own guidance of the time was unequivocal; "an attempt to commit suicide is an attempt to commit a felony, and therefore punishable with hard labour’.