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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

The Value Of Psychological Autopsy After A Publicized Suicide

The motive of all suicides is complex and can range from long term distress since childhood to the loss of a loved one and more, being particularly puzzling when the deceased is relatively young and successful. I was reminded of this upon reading of the recent suicide of fifty-five-year-old Jeffrey Parker who successfully led the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) after providing noted public service in Connecticut and Massachusetts. While the virtue of privacy is often sadly ignored, I believe that conducting a psychological autopsy after a widely publicized suicide can serve the public good as do medical treatment case histories, by educating people about the complexity of behavior and power of the unconscious. Thus, hopefully, dissuading others from such tragedy while creating a fitting memorial to the deceased who, as has long been said of those who suicide, chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

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