Year: 1990 Source: Oceania, v.60, no.3, (March 1990), p.161-178 SIEC No: 20010690

This paper describes some Tiwi (north Australia) conceptions of death, linking an important myth of the origins of death to an interpretation of the dynamics of Tiwi mourning. It argues that one part of the myth describes the psychological dangers of human responses to loss, in particular suicide. The mourning ceremonies facilitate the overcoming of these dangers & the reintegration of the individual into collective life. A case of pathological mourning which led to the suicide of a young man & the impact of the death on a number of the younger male kinsmen is discussed. In conclusion, the paper briefly summarises recent changes in Tiwi social life which have contributed to the precariousness of integration in young men, & to the emergence of the historically new pathological forms implied by the contemporary rise in the number of suicides. (8 refs.)