Intended for healthcare professionals


Violent suicide and obstetric complications

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 14 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1333

The link is mental illness

  1. Louis Appleby, Professor of psychiatry
  1. School of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, University of Manchester, Withington Hospital, Manchester M20 8LR

    Papers p 1346

    Each year in England and Wales there are 5500 suicides and deaths from undetermined external cause (these are mostly suicides leading to an open verdict at inquest), and almost half are by methods involving physical injury.1 These methods are diverse and include hanging, jumping from a height or in front of a moving vehicle, burning, and firearms. They do, however, have common characteristics which allow comparison with suicides by non-violent methods such as poisoning by overdose or car exhaust fumes. Both violent methods and asphyxiation by exhaust fumes are substantially more common in men (as are other types of violent behaviour), in whom hanging is now the most common method of self destruction.1 Violent suicides are associated with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia and major affective disorder,2 although mental disorder of some kind is found in most suicides.3 Internationally the method of suicide is also influenced by local factors including availability, so that jumping from buildings is particularly common in Hong Kong4 and deaths from firearms are related to gun …

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