Year: 2004 Source: Latin American Research Review, v.39, no.2, (June 2004), p.89-113 SIEC No: 20090610

This article examines medico-legal & popular interpretations of suicide in early twentieth-century Lima. In this period, physicians & lawyers interpreted suicide though the lens of modern scientific & legal thought & came to challenge the traditional interpretations of the Church, which insisted that suicide was a voluntary act. For ordinary people, medico-legal discourse on suicide provided an additional explanation. In particular, the idea that suicide was caused by forces over which no one had any real control, helped in the need to dilute blame & guilt. Even though medico-legal & popular understandings of suicide cross-fertilized, attempts by ordinary people to apportion certain meanings to suicide were perceived by the medico-legal community & more broadly as threats to society. (103 notes)