[APG Public List] Re: Suicide in the Early Twentieth Century

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 2 12:19:03 MST 2010

     My own thinking, after reading your description of the details of the situation, is that you may never discover records that accurately reflect what happened. Why? At that time period, suicide was a "scandalous" subject. Even families without wealth or connections, who had no reason to fear massive publicity, did everything they could to hush up the very fact, let alone the details.
     If this family was as well-connected as you say, that would suggest they had the _means_, as well as the motive, to keep detailed information out of official records. If there was anyone in the family at the time who wanted more detailed and accurate information, they no doubt had the clout to ensure that some obliging person would write them a _private_ letter enclosing the information they wanted.
     This is not to say you may not be able to piece together _some_ information by sifting the available evidence for clues. If you read between all the lines, carefully, you might manage to assemble a partial outline of what happened. But I really don't believe any government official, during this period, would think it was a good idea to include, on the official record, accurate details of such a potentially scandalous situation involving such a wealthy and well-connected family.
     As far as the Pope's physician being involved: was this physician actually an official at the Vatican? It sounds, to me, more as if the relevant inquest would be a matter for the Italian government, not the Vatican. The Pope might have chosen to use the services of a highly skilled physician who was not himself a Vatican official - if that is the case, there is no reason to think the inquest was conducted by the Vatican. Of course, such a person would have been considered highly reliable and discreet; someone who could be relied upon to produce the desired findings, whatever those were. I don't know enough about the Italian government to even suggest where the records of such an inquest might be found - and if the King was involved, even indirectly (as he would be if this family were considered favourites) that might have created a special situation, further complicating the issue.
     One further note: you mention the last mention you were able to locate for the husband was in 1939 - considering the historical significance of this date, I doubt that is a coincidence. Perhaps he fled as a refugee to some other country, perhaps dying in obscurity, or was killed in the war, or lost all his wealth and influence, thus dropping "off the radar". There are many possibilities. Whatever the actual answer, the fact that a huge and highly disruptive war broke out in the same year you find your last mention of him suggests you'll have to throw out a very wide net to learn his final fate. Depending on what it was, it might not even be on record. Given the situation in various parts of wartime Italy, there were certainly deaths which were never officially recorded. But if you dig _very_ deeply into the details of that last mention, everything else you know about him, _and_ detailed histories of _exactly_ what happened, when and where, in Italy
 during wartime, and make every effort to locate any hint you can of his life, you might at least form a clearer picture.
                          Ray Beere Johnson II


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