The Legacy of Suicide: the Impact of Suicide on Families
In 1855 the poet and balladeer Banjo Patterson penned a song which was destined to become the unofficial national anthem of Australia. ‘Waltzing Matilda’ underlines many elements in the colonial society of that day. Class-conflict, the oligarchy of the landowners and the justice system and the ethos of rugged individualism are all themes in this song about a swagman caught stealing a sheep by a waterhole. It is also a song which glorifies suicide because the swagman chooses death by drowning rather than surrendering himself to the troopers. ‘Waltzing Matilda’ highlights the fact that suicide rates in nineteenth-century Australia were higher than in England (Welborn 1982: 17). Ever since then suicide has been a significant way of dying for Australians.
KeywordsBurial Stake Ethos Hate
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