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December 23, 1905


JAMA. 1905;XLV(26):1959-1960. doi:10.1001/jama.1905.02510260045009

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A person who is supposedly sane and who sacrifices his life through willful neglect—whether this be due to pride not permitting him to ask for help or to religious delusions forbidding him to take the needed measures for his preservation—is little different from an ordinary suicide. The London coroner at Rotherhithe, however, makes a distinction. A man had deliberately refused to seek medical aid on account of his belief in faith-healing, and the coroner instructed the jury that since there was no evidence that the man had refused medical advice with the sole object of ending or shortening his life, the verdict could not be suicide by omission or self-neglect. It was, therefore, not a case of self-murder but of self-manslaughter—an offense not recognized in the criminal code. There is a distinction here with a difference, if the man really believed he was going to get well by faith alone,

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