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Post 23 May 2011, 9:34 am

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110523/ap_ ... de_autopsy

This is one of the great questions of history. Did Allende commit suicide? (I wish we had poll feature going) (he died of a gun shot)

Chime in with your prediction and reasoning or not.

I predict that he didn't commit suicide.

(1) Catholic country
(2) Personality of a political leader
(3) Democratically elected, had not lost that mandate
(4) Death occurred in adrenalin fast paced environment, rather than in a situation of drawn out longterm hopelessness.

However there's strong reason to believe he did kill himself:
"Our conviction is that President Allende took the decision to die, as an act of political coherence in defense of the mandate that was given him by the people," said Sen. Isabel Allende, who gently laid her hand on the casket, draped with a Chilean flag, during the somber procedure. She didn't take any questions.
The Allende family has trusted the version told by the only apparent eyewitness, Dr. Patricio Guijon, who was one of Allende's doctors and shared his final moments on Sept. 11, 1973, as the presidential palace was under furious attack. Allende had ordered his comrades to surrender, but instead of following them out, went alone into the Hall of Independence on the second floor.
Guijon said he too stepped away from the rest, to grab his gas mask, and happened to look into the hall at the moment Allende pulled the trigger of an AK-47.
"What I saw was the body rising up from the impact of the assault weapon, which was a weapon of war, and I ran there and saw there was nothing I could do," Guijon told The Associated Press in an interview last week.

So does Danivon want to take an easy bet on this?
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Post 23 May 2011, 11:34 pm

Do you seriously think that the question will be any more definitively resolved?
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Post 24 May 2011, 4:49 pm

I tried to throw you an easy bet in your favor, and that's the reply I get?

Alright how about we change it to your terms. I'll bet that science will answer the question and you can bet against science being able to clear up the matter.
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Post 25 May 2011, 10:39 am

Well, I'm not sure that 'science' will prove much, to be honest. If it turns out that the body doesn't match DNA, then the whole thing is essentially unprovable. If there is enough doubt due to the long period since death and the effects of two exhumations, I'm not sure that there will be an 'answer', or that if there is one there won't be another hiding away. I'm not sure how proof could be definitive anyway.

And it's not really an area I want to bet on. Death's not that trivial to me. Personally, I don't know for sure, and I'm not convinced that we will ever know. Perhaps he did commit suicide. Perhaps he was killed by one of his own side for some reason. Perhaps he was murdered by coup troops. Perhaps it was an accident. Maybe the reason his body was hurriedly buried after a dodgy process was down to what happened after he was found dead, or just an attempt to avoid debate at a time when the coup was still consolidating itself. If he was murdered, then of course it would be good if his killer were brought to justice, but realistically we're very unlikely to see that happen.

But to return to your original 'reasons', they all appear to be related to your own pov about suicide, and are as such more subjective than you may think.

1. Chile was catholic. So? I looked up Wikipedia's list of countries by suicide rate and at the top was Lithuania. Lithuania is 79% Catholic. Generalisations like this are easy to make, but even if Catholicism is very anti-suicide that doesn't mean that individual people who live in catholic countries are necessarily less likely to end their own lives. And when it comes to Allende, how catholic was he? How reverent of the church's teachings were his family? I think that's more relevant than your assumption.

2. Political 'personality'. Is there just one personality type associated with politicians? As much as there are some who may be supremely self-confident and who may not even contemplate failure, perhaps there are others who are masking massive internal fears. And perhaps it's not consistent from time to time. Consider Churchill, who had a remarkably confident persona on the outside, but was dogged (pun intended) by depression all of his life.

3. Elected. And? He was facing a military coup, one which was succeeding (he had just told his defenders to surrender). While he had won a plurality at an election, it was not a majority and his support in Parliament was weak. And I'm not sure that such considerations really were at the front of his mind at the time.

4. Not longterm hopelessness. So, are you saying that suicides are only from people suffering a longer term depression? I think that's a reach. Perhaps he feared a worse fate under the coup leaders if he surrendered. Better a quick death than one drawn out through torture, eh? Better a matyrdom than a humiliating public trial?

By the way, he was not the first Chilean President to take his own life rather than be in the hands of his enemies. Balmaceda shot himself in September 1891 after losing a bitter civil war.

I don't think you understand gambling, and I don't think you understand suicide. So I'll pass thanks.