Suicide and attempted suicide are no longer crimes in NSW, so the survivor of a suicide pact will not be guilty of murder or manslaughter. However, there are two offences connected with suicide. One offence is aiding or abetting a suicide or attempted suicide; a person found guilty may be liable to up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The other offence is inciting or counselling someone to commit suicide; the penalty is up to five years’ imprisonment. It is legal to use ‘reasonable’ force to prevent another person from committing suicide.

Police and coroner

Where suicide is suspected, the death becomes a coroner’s case, so it must be reported to the police. The body must be formally identified to the police, who then report the death to the coroner. The coroner may authorise a postmortem examination to be carried out at the nearest forensic mortuary, and a report is sent to the district coroner.

The coroner then issues a form of coroner’s or justice’s information of death, which is sent to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages so that they can issue a death certificate to the executor or next of kin. The cause of death has no bearing on funeral arrangements.