Kōrero: Suicide

Attempted suicide, 1883

This report, written by an Ōpunake constable, describes the verdict in a case brought against William Clark for alleged attempted suicide. At this time attempted suicide was a crime – this was intended as a deterrent. The report reads:

'Constable Twomey reports for the information of Sergt. Major Pardy respecting the above case which was heard at the R.M. Court Opunake before Mr Breach J.P. on the above date Col. Roberts being called away in duty and unable to attend.

'The case was clearly proved that Clark attempted suicide by cutting his throat with a razor. But the evidence of Dr Alexander as well Messrs Hare and Smith Chemists and Druggists Opunake went to prove that Clark was not responsible for his actions at the time being suffering from the effects of an over dose of chloral. The information was therefore dismissed.'

William Clark was a hotelkeeper in Ōpunake. He had separated from his wife and daughter, and also was thought to be in financial difficulties. He took an overdose of chloral, which was widely used as a sedative, and as he was recovering, he cut his own throat. Dr Alexander successfully sewed up the wound. However, it was a temporary salvation – a month later Clark shot himself through the heart.

Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi

Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: AANN Acc W4520 1 49

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Te tuhi tohutoro mō tēnei whārangi:

Jock Phillips, 'Suicide - Preventing suicide', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/zoomify/26444/attempted-suicide-1883 (accessed 14 July 2020)

He kōrero nā Jock Phillips, i tāngia i te 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 16 Jul 2019 with assistance from Sunny Collings and Rosemary Du Plessis