Method of attempted suicide influences risk of eventual suicide

July 13, 2010

The method that people use to attempt suicide has a large influence on the risk of later completed suicide, according to a new study published on bmj.com today.

A Swedish study found that suicide attempts involving hanging or strangulation, drowning, firearm, jumping from a height, or gassing are moderately to strongly associated with an increased risk of suicide compared with poisoning or cutting.

Suicide is a leading cause of death and the risk of suicide following a suicide attempt is around 10% over follow-up of five to 35 years. However, there has been little research so far into the characteristics of a suicide attempt - such as being well planned, drastic or violent - and whether those have a bearing on the risk of a later completed suicide.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm used national registers to carry out a study of 48,649 people admitted to hospital in Sweden due to a suicide attempt between 1973 and 1982.

They studied how the method of the suicide attempt might predict a completed suicide during a follow-up of 21-31 years, to the end of 2003.

The results showed that during follow up, 5,740 people (12%) went on to commit suicide and that suicide risk varied substantially by the method used at the previous suicide attempt.

Attempted suicide by poisoning was the most common method (84% of attempters) and was therefore linked to the majority of later suicides (4,270). However, the researchers found that the highest risk for eventual suicide (54% in men and 57% in women) was found for attempted suicide by hanging, strangulation, or suffocation.

People were around six times more likely to successfully commit suicide if they had attempted suicide by these methods previously, after adjusting for age, gender, education, immigrant status, and psychiatric illness.

More than 85% of these suicide cases died within one year following the prior suicide attempt.

For other methods such as gassing, jumping from a height, using a firearm or explosive, and drowning; the risks were significantly lower than for hanging, but were still higher at 1.8 times to 4 times more likely to successfully commit suicide.

People whose suicide attempt involved poisoning or cutting led to 12.3% or 13% respectively of later suicides.

The authors conclude: "The method used at a suicide attempt predicts later completed suicide also when controlling for sociodemographic confounding and co-occurring psychiatric disorder. Intensified aftercare is warranted after suicide attempts involving hanging, drowning, firearms or explosives, jumping from a height, or gassing."

In an accompanying editorial, Keith Hawton, Professor of Psychiatry at Warneford Hospital in Oxford, says that the results of this study have important implications for assessment and aftercare of patients who self harm. However, he warns that, "although use of more lethal methods of self harm is an important index of suicide risk, it should not obscure the fact that self harm in general is a key indicator of an increased risk of suicide."
-end-


BMJ

Related Suicide Articles from Brightsurf:

Suicide prevention in COVID-19 era
COVID-19 presents a new and urgent opportunity to focus political will, federal investments, and global community on the vital imperative of suicide prevention.

Racial discrimination linked to suicide
New research findings from the University of Houston indicate that racial discrimination is so painful that it is linked to the ability to die by suicide, a presumed prerequisite for being able to take one's own life, and certain mental health tools - like reframing an incident - can help.

Factors associated with firearm suicide risk
Researchers compared the risk of suicide by firearm based on sociodemographic characteristics of US adults.

Suicide mortality and COVID-19
Reasons why U.S. suicide rates may rise in tandem with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are explained in this article that also describes opportunities to expand research and care.

Media reports of celebrity suicide linked to increased suicide rates
Media reporting of suicide, especially celebrity suicides, is associated with increases in suicide in the general population, particularly by the same method as used by the celebrity, finds an analysis of the latest evidence published by The BMJ today.

More youth suicide found in poor communities across US
A study led by Jennifer Hoffmann, M.D., from Ann & Robert H.

BU study finds new factors linked to suicide
A new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers finds that physical illness and injury raises the risk of suicide in men but not women, along with a plethora of other insights into the complex factors that may increase a person's risk of suicide.

Investigating the full spectrum of suicide
A recent study published in Injury Prevention described a method for categorizing self-injury mortality (SIM) to help us better examine national trends for today's epidemics of suicide and drug-related deaths.

Between 16 and 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide
Thinking of taking one's own life (ideation), planning it, threatening to do it or even attempting to do it is regarded as suicidal behaviour.

Social networks and suicide prevention
Depression and mental health problems are increasing - and suicide and drug overdose rates are rising dramatically in the USA.

Read More: Suicide News and Suicide Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.