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Journal Article

Public Suicide as a Deed of Optionless Intimacy

Dušan I. Bjelić
Symbolic Interaction
Vol. 13, No. 2 (Fall 1990), pp. 161-183
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
DOI: 10.1525/si.1990.13.2.161
Stable URL:
Page Count: 23

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Topics: Suicide, Firearms, Ceremonies, Intimacy, Desks, Warnings, Gestures, Conversation, Social interaction, Goodbyes
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Public Suicide as a Deed of Optionless Intimacy
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This article offers an ethnomethodological analysis of suicide practices in situ. By analyzing a videotaped record of a public suicide by a government official this article is able to examine the temporal relations between the unfolding suicide act and the situational contingencies arising from its interactional context. In the case examined, the suicide was planned as a ceremony, in part to indicate the official facing corruption charges. A press conference provided the pretext for the suicide ceremony in which the official intended to deliver a prepared speech to accuse his accusers and bid farewell to loved ones before shooting himself. Things turned out differently than he planned, though he did in the end shoot himself. The analysis focuses on how the audience's reaction to the imminent suicide foreclosed the suicide cermony while at the same time pre-emptying the pre-suicide speech deferring the impending suicide.

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