LETTER: A title Hastings does not deserve

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The Independent Online
From Mr David Wadman

Sir: As coroner for Hastings I feel I must break my usual rule and write to the press. I was concerned to see that Hastings is described as "the suicide capital of Britain" in an article by Emma Brooker in your paper today ("The latter-day battle of Hastings", 22 May).

I do not propose to comment on the main thrust of the article, however I do wish to make it clear that one significant statistic is incorrect. It is not correct to say that "about 20 people die by their own hand in the Hastings area each year". I or my deputy returned the verdict of suicide on 12 people who died in the Hastings area in 1994. Of the 12 suicides, only five occurred in Hastings and one of those was a visitor. During the same period 27 suicide verdicts were returned relating to deaths in the Eastbourne area, which includes Beachy Head.

During the previous year the number of suicide verdicts returned was greater, but of the 18 suicide verdicts returned for the Hastings area, which includes Rye and Bexhill-on-Sea, only 10 people were residents of Hastings and St Leonards, which surely hardly justifies giving the town the sobriquet of "the suicide capital of Britain". The equivalent statistic for the Eastbourne area was approximately 40 suicide verdicts.

Yours faithfully,

D. WADMAN

HM Coroner for

East Eussex (Eastern District)

Bexhill

East Sussex

22 May

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