Suicide in young people. Study of 174 cases, aged under 25 years, based on coroners' and medical records
Hawton K., Houston K., Shepperd R.
Background: Suicide rates in young males in the UK have risen markedly in recent years. Aims: To investigate the characteristics of a series of consecutive suicides in under- 25-year-olds. Method: We studied coroners' inquest notes, general practitioners' records and psychiatric case notes of 174 individuals (148 males and 26 females) whose deaths received a verdict of suicide or an open or accidental verdict (excluding traffic accidents) where the circumstances strongly suggested suicide. Results: More individuals were of lower social class and unemployed than in the local population. Hanging and carbon monoxide poisoning were the most frequent methods of suicide, and coproxamol was the drug most often used in overdoses. Previous self-harm had occurred in 44.8%, nearly half of these having carried out multiple episodes and 80% having self-harmed within the previous year. Little support was found for an earlier finding of increasing frequency of general practitioner visits shortly before death. Only 22.4% of individuals were in the care of psychiatric services. Conclusions: Diverse strategies are required to prevent suicide in the very young. Declaration of interest: Support received from the former Oxford Regional Health Authority and the Anglia and Oxford Research and Development Committee.